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Full text of "Computer Power User Volume 5 Issue 5"

ATI All-in-Wonder X800 XT ABIT Fatality A8N Mobo Seagate 400GB Barracuda Hard Drive 





COMPUTER POWER 







I Resolution Galore 

Five High-End LCDs Reviewed 

(page 16) 



./here's The Clock? 

Microprocessors Without Clocks 



(page 46) 



Q& A with 
Phil 

Zimmermann 

PGP & Beyond 

(page 108) 



^an P2P Be Legal? 

Mashboxx May Have A Way 

(page 85) 



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The power of Z E N 

o Micro-sized MP3 player o Mesmerizing blue glow ° Curved to fit in the palm of your hand 

o Up to 12-hour battery life on a single charge ° Removable battery to extend playtime another 12 hours 

o FM radio ° Voice recorder o Intuitive vertical touch pad control 

o Access over 2 million songs through Zen supported online music services 



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CPU 

COMPUTER POWER USER 



May 2005 • Vol 5 Issue 5 



Frontside 



6 What's Happening 
12 Digital Economy 
14 The Saint 

My Wife's PC 




Copyright 2005 by Sandhills Publishing Company. Computer Power User is a trademark of Sandhills Publishing 
Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material appearing in Computer Power User is strictly prohibited 
without written permission. Printed in the U.S.A. GST # 123482788RT0001 (ISSN 1536-7568) CPU Computer 
Power User USPS 020-801 is published monthly for $29 per year by Sandhills Publishing Company, 131 West 
Grand Drive, P.O. Box 82667, Lincoln, NE 68501. Subscriber Services: (800) 424-7900. Periodicals postage paid at 
Lincoln, NE. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Computer Power User, P.O. Box 82667, Lincoln, NE 68501. 



Pete Loshin 
Open Sauce 

page 84 



Did you find the hidden CPU logo on our cover? Turn the page for the an 




Heavy Gear 

15 Dream Hardware 

16 The Bold & Beautiful 

Five Premium LCDs Put Through 
A Graphics Gauntlet 

24 ATI AII-ln-WonderX800 JO- 
ZY! 915PM Notebook Chassis 

25 ABIT Fatality A8N 

Memory Experts International Outbacker 

28 Are Wireless Headphones Ready To Rock? 

29 AOpen EY855-II Small Form Factor 
Chassis 

Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB Drive 

30 Wi-Fi Detectors 
Thermaltake Armor Tower 

31 Anand's Corner 

Cell (Part II): An Architecture Before Its Time? 

32 The Shark Tank 

The Future According To Intel . . . 

33 [H]ard Talk 

Get Wet With PC Cooling 













t 


o 





Hard Hat Area 

PC Modder 



34 
35 



Tips & Tutorials 

Phase-Change Cooling System, Part II 

Overclocking & Performance 




40 
44 

46 



Advanced Q&A Corner 
X-ray Vision: Nanotubes 

New Technology May Star In TV 
White Paper: Asynchronous Logic 

Who Let The Clocks Out? 



Loading Zone 

72 The Bleeding Edge Of Software 

Inside The World Of Betas 
74 Up To Speed 

Upgrades That'll Keep You 

Humming Along 
76 Let's Talk About Text, Baby 

Text Editors & Beyond 

79 PentaWare PentaSuite 7.5 

80 Norton PartitionMagic 8.0 vs. Norton 
Ghost 9.0 

82 Utilities For Your iPod 

83 Dialogue Box 
Genius Gmail Gtools 

84 Open Sauce 
Microsoft Rocks! 

Caught In The Web 

85 Legal P2P The Mashboxx Way 

Can File Swapping Go Straight? 

mlltboioc 

Web Coder's Corner: 

A Guide To Becoming An XML Expert 

88 The Department Of Stuff 
cables.txt 

89 Forward Slash 

The Moving Platform 



Digital Living 



90 



92 



Road Warrior 

Mobile Phone 
House Calls, 
CommWarrior.a 
Spreads, The End 
Of The CUE, The 
New Walkman & 
More From The 
Mobile Front 
At Your Leisure 
Plug In, Sit Back 
& Fire Away 



Tips & Tricks 



97 



64 




Software Tips & Projects 

Mod The Fox 

Warm Up To Penguins 

Create Your Own Linux Boot CD 



Whaf s Cooking 

1 00 Shavings From The Rumour Mill 

Duel Takes On Dual Meaning 

101 Technically Speaking 

An Interview With Gael Duval, 
Mandrakelinux's Creator 
1 06 Under Development 

A Peek At What's Brewing In 
The Laboratory 



Back Door 

1 08 Back Door Q&A With Phil Zimmermann 

PGP & Beyond 




April 2005 (page 31): 
Whoops, Planet Computer's MCE system is the 
HDX700. We got it right in the headline, but the 
spec listed the system as the XDX700. 




Sandhills 
Publishing- 



Greetings From Samitland 






W 



Vre heading through spring, and summer is fast approaching. Things at 
CPU move a mile a minute, so it's really easy to put your head down to get 
some work done, pop it back up, and look around to find you're nearly in 
a new season. I never cease to be astounded by how quickly the year moves for us. Good 
thing, too, because there's never really a dull moment! 

After last month's eye candy PCs, we thought it was time to get more involved in 
improvement and expansion. What am I talking about? Well, Linux and open source. Have 
no fear. We're not here to convert non-Linux users. The majority of us are Windows XP 
users, and we're likely to be using WinXP on our main PC. However, Linux offers many, 
many benefits and might be a solid option for a second PC or simply to expand your hori- 
zons. We're power users, after all. That's what this month's Spotlight (starting on page 50) is 
all about: having more options while saving money. (Heck, I'm not even touting Linux's 
renowned stability when compared with WinXP.) And even if you only own one PC, that's 
fine. You can jump to page 66 to sort out some stellar open-source programs that you can 
run on your WinXP-based system. You can also learn about booting a fully functional Linux 
OS from CD and play to your heart's content (page 64) 

Other than Linux and open source, we have our 
first in-depth guide on LCDs (gaming and mucho 
screen real estate), microprocessors without clocks, 
and phase two of our phase-change cooled mod (the 
time to overclock is now), to name but a few high- 
lights. I have to keep things short, though. This 
issue is going to press right as I prep to fly to Kolkata 
(India) to meet Wife Julie. Thank goodness for Blaine 
and Trista who are holding down the fort while I pre- 
pare to jet away. It's been a year since my dad passed 
away, so I'm heading home for the customary puja 
(pronounced "pooja"), and this time without any 
tech. (OK, I borrowed a Canon PowerShot S70 
digicam [my new Casio Exilim Z-50 wasn't going to 
be here in time] and a newly purchased 1GB Creative 
MuVo USB flash key.) I'll make up for the tech dur- 
ing a quick stopover in Tokyo on the way home, 
though. In the meantime, wish me the best of luck. 
I shall look forward to seeing you next month. 




%^M. 



Samit G. Choudhuri, Publication Editor, CPU 




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NEW ENGLAND 
| BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY 

ASSOCIATION 






What's Happening Hard 



ware 



Compiled by 
Steve Smith 



Finally, A Mouse With A Stick Shift 

For hard-core gamers, there is no such thing as having too much control over your PC. 
And so, master fraggers now get a mouse with a manual transmission. Logitech's new 
MX 518 Gaming-Grade Optical Mouse ($49.99) plants switches above and below the 
scroll wheel to shift the wired mouse among 400, 800, and 1,600dpi settings for total 
precision during those nail-biting action sequences. No clutch required. At its highest 
setting, this hot rod processes 5.8MPps, and its ultra- wide 16-bit data path sends 8,000 
bits of information to your PC per second for super-smooth 3D movement. In close 
combat with those creepy mutated lice in Half-Life 2, gamers may want to down shift to 
lower resolutions for better aiming. Gotcha! Whatever you are. A 





The plus (+) and minus (-) 
buttons around the scroll 
wheel on Logitech's MX 518 
optical mouse kick resolution 
up or down on the fly. 



Intel Imagines The Next Generation 

At its annual Developers Forum in March, Intel went all Jetson on us with "con- 
cept" PCs that imagine how system builders might exploit their next generation 
CPUs and chipsets. An upcoming iteration of the mobile Centrino chipset pow- 
ered an "on-the-go" handheld PC that includes touchscreen input, detachable 
keyboards and DVD players, GPS positioning, Wi-Fi, and internal microphones 
and camera for taking digital media anywhere. A new digital office PC packed 
the functionality of a full-sized PC into a slim, ultra-quiet micro tower the 
size of a notebook. Intel doesn't build PCs itself, of course, but concept mod- 
els such as these point to the kind of power, miniaturization, and functionali- 
ty the company intends to provide PC manufacturers in the near future. A 



The next Centrino processors could shrink full-power 
mobile PCs to handheld size and pack a tower of 
office computing power into a sliver of its former self. 



Seeing Triple With VTBook 

Nowadays, laptops can do pretty much anything a midrange desktop PC can do — except 
drive multiple displays. Until now. For those who need a bigger view, the VTBook adapter 
($250) expands a laptop's desktop onto two additional monitors. With a DVI connector, 
32MB of 266MHz DDR video memory, and even 3D acceleration onboard, the card hits 
resolutions up to 1,920 x 1,200. Connect a second external display to your laptop's exist- 
ing VGA port, and the software virtualizes your desktop across three monitors. What to do 
with this new real estate? You could scroll across an obscenely large spreadsheet, we imag- 
ine, or just do what we would do: Hook up one of those Logitech MX 518 mice (see 
"Finally, A Mouse With A Stick Shift") and play Doom 3 in CinemaScope. A 




6 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



What's Happening • Hardware 



4ms & Counting: 

Viewsonic Turbo-Charges LCDs 

It's a fact of life for LCD display owners, rapidly moving images 
in games and movies still result in ugly screen ghosting and 
smearing. This summer we'll see if ViewSonic solves the prob- 
lem with a new Xtreme line of LCDs that boasts a 4ms response 
time (eight times faster than typical monitors, the company 
says). Available the second quarter of this year, the 19-inch 
VX924 ($505) and 17-inch VX724 (pricing TBA) combine two 
ViewSonic acceleration techniques dubbed Dynamic Structure 
and Amplified Impulse to deliver up to 250fps across the color 
spectrum. In addition to a more solid rendering of motion 
sequences, the Xtreme displays also have a wide 160-degree 
viewing angle and a 550:1 contrast ratio. (See page 16 for our 
LCD Roundup this month.) A 




ViewSonic says 
its new Xtreme 
line of LCDs 
achieves a new 
high in 
rendering 
action scenes 
by reaching 
ultra-low 4ms 
response times. 



Hardware Mole 



No More Cords! No More Cords! 

Can anyone save us from the frustrating rat's nest of wires behind every — we mean every — PC and home theater system? 
Salvation may be at hand in Wireless USB, a proposed specification that connects PCs and peripherals such as mice, printers, 
cameras, and monitors wirelessly at data rates up to 480Mbps within a 10-meter range. Microsoft, NEC, Intel, and HP are 
among many manufacturers behind this technology, which will use radio transmitters on device dongles, add-in cards, and 
eventually embedded within PCs, DVDs, speakers, TVs, etc. The Wireless USB Promoter Group is reviewing a release candi- 
date for the first official version of the hardware specs. 

Creative Sound Blasts Your Motherboard 

Motherboards that use the Analog Devices 5.1 AC97 audio codec may soon get a simple and inexpensive ($19.99) Sound Blaster 

Live! Advanced MB upgrade path. Creative Labs just released this downloadable package that enhances compatible integrated audio 

chipsets with EAX Advanced HD effects in games, the MediaSource player/recorder, 

virtualized surround sound, and even a karaoke tool that removes voices from 

music playback. The Advanced MB upgrade only works with the ASUS 

P5P500 motherboard for now, but Creative seems to be campaigning 

for other major PC manufacturers to support the upgrade. 

Check Out The E-Go On That One 

Laptops need a makeover, says computer brand Tulip. The 
Netherlands company introduced a line of E-Go portables with 
contoured chassis and fabric exteriors. E-Gos use technologies for 
embedding natural materials in device casings from Inclosia — the 
E-Go PCs are the first mass-produced laptops with leather and fabric 
enclosures. Tulip says it is not sacrificing technology for fashion, howev- 
er, and E-Gos will include widescreen LCDs, email checking without boot- 
ing, and all of the high-end amenities power fashionistas have come to expect. But will 
it go with our cargo pants and three-year-old sneakers? Does zebra skin go with anything? 




We're not quite ready to call 
laptops covered in faux zebra 
skin remotely fashionable. 



CPU /May 2005 7 



What's Ha 



Watch 



Compiled by DeanTakahashi 



Ageia Offers PhysX Chi p To Power Game Physics 



** IR 



NnvndeX 

Toole By AGEIA 



PhysX 




The folks at Ageia can't stand lousy physics in today's 
computer games — like when you blow up a building and 
the debris scatters just a little too perfectly. That's why 
they are working with Secret Level to optimize physics in 
games. The result is a NovodeX Solution Development 
House and the PhysX chip. This chip offloads physics cal- 
culations from the CPU and accelerates them using a 
highly parallel architecture. Manju Hegde, CEO of the 
Mountain View, Calif, company, says the company has 
raised $38 million since 2002 and is preparing to launch 
the PPU (Physics Processing Unit) in the fall of 2005. 
Ageia's board of directors includes Ed Fries, former 
Microsoft game chief, who says he is impressed by Ageia's 
innovative approach. Now all the company has to do is 
get game developers on board to write games that exploit 
the PhysX chip. With such support, Hegde says, you'll see 
games in which the entire environment is physically accu- 
rate. If a car crashes on a racecourse, for instance, you'll 

see its fender crumple and the side rails get dented. Hopefully, though, car crashes will 

still look like they do in the movies, not real life. A 

AMD Launches Turion 64 Portable C hips 

AMD has delivered its answer to Intel's Centrino cam- 
paign with its Turion 64 mobile processors. These 64-bit 
chips combine high performance and low power to target 
the thin and light notebook category. Included in this line- 
up are four 35-watt processors: the ML-30, ML-32, ML- 
34, and the ML-37; and three 25-watt processors: the MT- 
30, MT-32, and MT-34. In performance comparisons vs. 
Intel's Pentium M 760, AMD says the Turion ML-37 has 
an advantage ranging from 6 to 33% on a variety of benchmarks at equivalent clock speeds. 
The chips are made using a 90nm process using SOI technology and offer a variety of 
reduced power states. In contrast to Centrino, however, AMD won't be offering its own 
Wi-Fi and chipsets. That's where the company says it will rely on best-of-breed partners to 
outdo Intel's own combined offerings. Prices range from $184 to $354. A 

NVIDIA Tips Its Hand To 
n F orce 4 Core Logic For In tel 

NVIDIA says that its upcoming nForce 4 core logic 
chipsets for Intel platforms will feature support for its 
SLI graphics technology, which links two graphics 
cards together in a single system. Heretofore the SLI 
technology was only available on the AMD platform; 
however, the long chill between NVIDIA and Intel 
thawed, and the two companies have announced a 
patent cross-licensing agreement. This deal allowed NVIDIA to begin building Intel 
chipsets, which will open up nearly three-fourths of the PC market to NVIDIA's nForce 
chipsets. NVIDIA says its first products will address the high-end core logic market by 
bringing SLI to Intel systems. The nForce 4 chipsets will also feature integrated firewall 
security and increased protection for safely storing digital media files. A 





tjForce:^. 



SLI 



Intel 

Edition 



Watching 
The Chips Fall 

Here is pricing information for AMD and Intel CPUs. 



Released Original 
price 



Current price Last month's 
price 



1/6/2004 



AMD Athlon 64 2800+ 

$193** $109 



$111 



9/23/2003 



AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 

$218** $129 



$141 



9/23/2003 



AMD Athlon 64 3200+ 

$417** $178 



$187 



1/6/2004 



AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 

$417** $207 



$199 



6/1/2004 



AMD Athlon 64 3500+ 

$500** $245 



$275 



6/1/2004 



AMD Athlon 64 3700+ 

$710** $322* 



$465* 



6/1/2004 



AMD Athlon 64 3800+ 

$720** $370 



$555 



AMD Athlon 64 4000+ 

10/19/2004 $729** $499 



$685 



AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 

3/18/2004 $733** $727 



$749 



AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 

10/19/2004 $827** $849* 



$851* 



Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz 800MHz FSB 1MB cache 

2/2/2004 $278** $214 $215 

Intel Pentium 4 3.4GHz 800 MHz FSB 

2/2/2004 $417** $271 $271 

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.2GHz 
2MB cache 800MHz FSB 

11/3/2003 $925** $667* $910* 

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz 
2MB cache 800MHz FSB 

2/2/2004 $999** $899* $1,322 

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46GHz 
2MB cache 800MHz FSB 

11/2/2004 $999** $995* $1025* 

Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz 
2MB cache 800MHz FSB 

2/21/2005 $999** $1100* N/A 

Intel Pentium 4 520 2.8GHz 1 MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

6/27/2004 $178** $163* $163* 

Intel Pentium 4 530 3GHz 1MB cache 800MHz FSB 90nm 

6/27/2004 $218** $174* $182* 

Intel Pentium 4 540 3.2GHz 1MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

6/27/2004 $278** $224* $229* 

Intel Pentium 4 550 3.4GHz 1 MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

6/27/2004 $417** $305* $299* 

Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz 1MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

6/27/2004 $637** $416* $419* 

Intel Pentium 4 570 3.8GHz 1 MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

11/15/2004 $637** $698* $637** 

Intel Pentium 4 630 3GHz 2MB cache 800MHz FSB 90nm 

2/21/2005 $224** $233* N/A 

Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2GHz 2MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

2/21/2005 $273** $277* N/A 

Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz 2MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

2/21/2005 $401** $389* N/A 

Intel Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz 2MB cache 800 MHz FSB 90nm 

2/21/2005 $605** $599* N/A 




8 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



What's Happenin 



o ft 



ware 






The next Xbox will have an 
accessible user interface 
within games and connect 
the gamer with other 
players, his own stats, 
music, and media. 



Xbox Gets An OS 

In addition to tons of power (a 
teraflop of processing, multicore 
IBM CPU, custom ATI GPU), 
the heart of the next Xbox will 
be a sophisticated operating sys- 
tem that even pops up inside 
games. Revealed at the March 
Game Developers Conference 
by Microsoft VP J. Allard, the 
Xbox Guide tags each of us with 
a Gamer Card of vital stats, 
scores, and a reputation rating 
for player matching on Xbox 
Live. From within a game, you 
can customize the soundtrack 
with your own tracks, and an 
online Marketplace accesses 
micro-purchases of new game 
levels, characters, or cheats. 
Allard says it is part of the 
"high-definition" experience of 
the next-gen Xbox. We say, get 
it here fast. A 



Sim Pilot Circumnavigates 
The Virtual Globe 

Steve Fossett recently completed the first nonstop solo flight 
around the world; however, he wasn't alone because he had a 
virtual co-pilot. Flight instructor Brad Amstutz recreated 
GlobalFlyer's journey by modeling the plane in Microsoft 
Flight Simulator 2004 and mirroring Fossett's flight simulta- 
neously in real time. Following Fossett's own regiment, 
Amstutz even chugged milkshakes for energy and grabbed a 
couple of 20-minute naps each day. The project for Popular 
Science magazine proved a remarkably accurate simulation. 
When concerns were raised about Fossett running low on 
fuel, Amstutz's model correctly calculated the plane's proba- 
ble fuel levels and burn rates to show that the real GlobalFlyer 
would finish its record-breaking trip without refueling. A 




Software 
Shorts 

This Cherry Tastes Like An Apple . . . 
Or Is It A Pear? 

When Maui X-Stream ( www.mxsinc.com ) released a Mac emulator 
for Windows XP recently, boy did the fruit hit the fan. The $49.99 
CherryOS mimics a G4's operations on most PCs and can load 
Apple's Mac OS X operating system. But critics claim that CherryOS 
closely resembles an open-source PearPC emulator. MXS admits that 
although an earlier CherryOS beta did contain some PearPC code, 
the final release does not. Critics remain suspicious of the similarities 
among the programs and point out that open-source licensing 
requires the free publication of any source code that uses or modifies 
an open-source project. 

Lawsuits Hope To Squeeze Apple Juice 

With success come lawsuits, and so patent lawyers are lining up to 
take a bite from Apple's wildly popular iPod and iTunes. Hong 
Kong company Pat-rights ( www.pat~rights.com ) claims it patented 
Apple's method of verifying users and passwords online and is ask- 
ing for no less than 12% of gross sales for both products. Mean- 
while, back in court, Advanced Audio Devices says Apple violated 
its patent to "a music jukebox which is configured for storing a 
music library therein." Both companies say Apple refused their 
attempts to negotiate terms. 

Internet Explorer 7 Jumps The Gun 

Security concerns with IE6, and a little thing called Firefox, prompted 
Microsoft to rethink its IE7 release schedule. Instead of launching it 
as intended with Windows Longhorn in 1996, a beta version of IE7 
may emerge this summer with new protection from phishing attacks. 
Microsoft says only that the new browser will be compatible with the 
Windows XP Service Pack 2 update. Fearing that they are being over- 
looked, Windows 2000 users are already voicing their ire on the IE7 
developers' blog ( blogs.msdn.com/ie ). 



Flight instructor Brad Amstutz used 
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 to 
shadow Steve Fossett's historic 
GlobalFlyer journey in real time. 



CPU /May 2005 9 



What's Ha 



net 




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When Lynette's father- in-la^v 
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Rodney Scai/o) pays a visit; she 
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Julie's growing romance with 
Zadi, Rex attempts bo reconcile 
with Bree, and Sabrielle is 
shocked when John's parents 
(guest stars Kathryn Harrald and 
t-tdtk l-drelik}askherferafavor. 



In a bid to raise traffic to its Web portal, AOL 
now offers extensive video recaps of recent 
TV programming. 



Anytime Is Now Prime Time 

Who needs TiVo when we've got the Web? The two biggest portals on the planet are 
slowly but surely bringing prime-time TV programming directly to your desktop. In 
March, Yahoo! TV ( tv.yahoo.com ) broke ground by streaming the first episode of Kirstie 
Alley's new series "Fat Actress" at the same moment it was premiering on Showtime. 
Users can rerun this pilot anytime online just as they would with a DVR. Yahoo! also 
features generous clips and unused footage from "The Apprentice." AOL Television 
( tv.channel.aol.com ) is out trumping Yahoo! 's Trump with extensive preview clips of 
many major prime-time shows such as "Alias." AOL's great TV's Top 5 is a daily video 
compilation of last night's best TV moments, and a special On Demand area has video 
recaps of "Desperate Housewives" and "American Idol." AOL Television lives outside of 
AOL's customary subscription wall, and it is part of the company's emerging strategy to 
offer additional free programming to the Web. This past summer, when AOL offered 
members the first episode of The WB's "Jack & Bobby" before the series premier, the 
video was streamed 700,000 times. That's a few extra ratings points right there. 




Don't buy without trying. Mpowerplayer will run 
phone-based Java games on your PC desktop. 



Phone Gaming Comes Online 

Choosing mobile games from the microscopic interface on your cell phone is like picking 
from Forrest Gump's box of chocolates; you never know what you're going to get. But 
with Mpowerplayer's new software, you can demo mobile Java games on your desktop 
before you buy them on your phone. Sun Microsystems will use this cool downloadable 
player to feature game demos at its own popular Java.com page and third-party game 
makers will submit their titles to Sun for inclusion at the site. Mobile gamers can preview 
the technology themselves, however, at Mpowerplayer.com. The player software mimics a 
cell phone with a large screen rendition of your mobile game and a phone keypad for con- 
trolling the action. Getting cell phone users to try and buy games is becoming a very seri- 
ous business. According to UK research firm Screen Digest, there are over 400 million 
game-ready phones in the world, and Sun's J2ME mobile version of Java is far and away 
the most common platform. Powerhouses EA and Yahoo! both recently announced sub- 
stantial new investments in developing mobile titles. With titans such as these now in 
play, you can expect your cell phone to raise its game considerably this year. 



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Site Search 



Fresh search for your websites. 



cpu magazine 



| blast it! | 



Gigablast is the brainchild of lone-programmer 
Matt Wells. 



Gigablast: 

The Garage Band Of Search Engines 

Generally, we don't think of search engines as being hip, but Gigablast ( www.giga 
blast.com ) is the closest thing to an indie garage band that you will find in this world of 
geeky algorithms. Initially built by lone C++ programmer and InfoSeek veteran Matt 
Wells, Gigablast was designed to index 200 billion Web pages with as little hardware and 
cost as possible. Media insiders and advertising buyers have taken notice of this little 
engine that could because it now drives the search queries at Google wannabes Clusty 
.com and Snap.com. Webmasters are free to use the Gigablast search box on their own 
sites to run user queries to the Web at large or just within their own URLs. Partner sites 
can even customize the box to search a restricted list of URLs. The coolest part of Giga- 
blast search results is the Giga Bits: suggested related terms that you can click to further 
refine your search with more precise terms. Of course, the tragically unhip will want to 
stick to Google and its arcane syntax for complex searches. But Google is so 2004. 



10 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



What's Happening • Internet 



Google Maps The Future 



Oh, Google isn't ready to lose 
its hipness quite yet (see "Giga- 
blast: The Garage Band Of 
Search Engines"). It now has 
the coolest online maps we 
have seen yet. Hidden within 
its Labs section of beta pro- 
jects, Google Maps ( maps 
.google.com ) are just plain fun. 
Search for an address or just a 
category of services, such as 
movie theaters, and the 



locations pop up in stylish 3D 
windows that contain links to 
any related Web site or driving 
directions. To reposition this 
highly interactive tool to near- 
by areas, just click and drag the 
map and it moves around just 
like the real thing. You won't 
have to wait for the tedious 
page refreshes common to 
most Web-based mapping. 
Here are some quick tips: Type 



wifi hotspot and your ZIP 
code in the search box to 
see a map of your area with 
nearby Wi-Fi hotspots 
highlighted. Use the key- 
board directional keys to 
reposition the map and the 
plus (+) and minus (-) keys 
to zoom in and out. Even 
the most masculine dudes 
will break down and ask 
directions at this place. 




Forget page refreshes. Just 
click and drag these upcoming 
Google maps to see the next 
street or town. 



New On The 'Net 




Flocabulary is 

Grammar Rock all 

grown up: SAT 

words put to 

hip-hop. 

SATs Get Da Funk 

Following the principle that rhythm and mnemonic 
memory devices are the best tools for memorizing 
anything, Flocabulary.com has turned the dictionary 
of obtuse vocabulary on the SAT and GRE stan- 
dardized tests into hip-hop tunes. Yup, its hip-hop, 
but peppered with lyrics such as "Time flows in like 
waves, undulating, I bide my time in this antecham- 
ber I'm just waiting." OK, so it's not Grammy 
material, but how many rap tunes will help you get 
into Harvard? Word! 



The Art Of The Brick 

We didn't know that there was such a 
thing as a "professional Lego artist," but 
Nathan Sawaya ( www.nathan brickartist 
.com ) actually makes a living sculpting 
Legos into logos and art objects for cor- 
porate clients and parents who must real- 
ly, really spoil their kids at Christmas. 
You can now view masterpieces such as a 
Lego version of Han Solo frozen in car- 
bonite and a mosaic of Lindsay Lohan 
and Alfred Hitchcock at his online gallery. 
Liberty Jedi, which we're guessing is acting 
cast for "Star Wars: Episode III." 




Artist Nathan Sawaya paints with 
Legos to make the Statue of 
Liberty into a Jedi and David 
Letterman look even goofier 
than in real life. 

And don't miss his weird 
out her frustration at not being 



If We Could Turn Back Time 

All 8 1 years of Time magazine now reside fully digitized at TimeArchives 
.com. A total of 266,000 articles and over 4,000 covers are indexed for easy 
searching. Visitors can rifle through decades of covers at a time or navigate 
every word of an issue through interactive tables of contents. Time is not 
doing this as a public service, of course. Full access to article contents 
comes only with a paid subscription to Time, which the site tries to sell you 
just about every five seconds. 



BIOS Upgrades Available Online Compiled b y Kevin savet* 

Before you send another motherboard to the landfill, consider upgrading the BIOS and giving your PC a new outlook on life. 
Here are a few recently released upgrades. Readers can check out www.cpumag.com/cpumay05/bios to see our entire upgrade list. 



Motherboard 



Date Available ■ URL 



ABIT KV-80 


03/11/2005 


www.abit-usa.com/downloads/bios/bios_revision. php?categories=1 &model=238 


ABIT Fatality AA8XE 


03/11/2005 


www.abit-usa.com/downloads/bios/bios_revision. php?categories=1 &model=239 


AOpeni915Pa-E 


03/09/2005 


download.aopen.com.tw/userdownload_List.aspx?RecNo=9037&Model=i915Pa-E 


ASUS A8N-SLI DELUXE 


03/08/2005 


www.asus.com/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=A8N-SLI%20Deluxe&Type=BIOS 


ASUS A8V-E DELUXE 


03/08/2005 


www.asus.com/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=A8V-E%20Deluxe&Type=BIOS 


Biostar K8VGA-M 


03/04/2005 


www.biostar-usa.com/mbdownloads.asp7modehk8vga-m 



CPU /May 2005 11 



DIGITAL ECONOMY 



Compiled by Steve Smith 




Some jobs are so "big and 
important, they just sound 
scary. When you interview 
for the job of Chief Archi- 
tect at America Online, 
you better be ready for 
serious responsibility In 
its 400-word job descrip- 
tion, AOL asks for a decade 
of hard-core engineering 
and supervisory experi- 
ence so you can review the 
code and architecture of 
AOL software (yikes!). You 
will also command multi- 
million dollar, IS to 18 
month projects, serve as 
the company-wide 
resource in your area of 
expertise, and provide 
vision, mentoring, trouble- 
shooting, and innovation 
across departments. And 
that's all before your 
morning coffee break, 
AOLs big software kahuna 
must anticipate market 
trends, find opportunities 
for cross-departmental 
development, and then 
"define quality at AOL." 
But before you leave for 
the day, oh great and pow- 
erful one, be ready to 
"solve problems which 
have little or no prece- 
dent," according to the job 
description. Is AOL 
looking for an architect or 
for a Marvel superhero? 



U.S. Wi-Fi Hotspot Growth (2002 - 2008) 

The number of Wi-Fi-enabled areas in the U.S. will nearly double between 
2005 and 2008, predicts Telecommunications Industry Association. In 2004, 
69% of Wi-Fi hotspots were in cafes and retail locations. 




2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 



No Loyalty Among Searchers 

Sure, everybody loves Googling, but that doesn't mean we won't do a lit- 
tle searching with others on the side. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, 
Google remains far and away the most popular engine with 47% of all 
online searches, more than twice Yahool's 21%. And yet, a majority of 
Google searchers (58%) also use one or more of the other major search 
engines. Brand loyalty is a high stakes game among Google, Yahoo!, 
and MSN's recently launched search service. Piper Jaffrey analysts pre- 
dict that revenues from all of those little text ads peppered around our 
search results will be worth $13.5 billion in revenues by 2007 
and $23 billion by 2010. 



11% 

a Percentage of U.S. 
Web users who pur- 
chase fee-based 
digital music 

Internet Systems Consortium 

Ml £» 



600% 

Traffic spike at 
Budweiser.com 
on Super Bowl 
Sunday 

comScore 




3 1 7,646,084 

Number of domains 
on the Internet as of 
January 2005 

internet Systems Consortium 




$1.1 

Trillion 

Projected annual 
revenues for the 
U.S. telecom 
industry by 2008 

America's Network Online 




12 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



Gmson 



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when it comes 
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worldwide, Grisoft is the best choice 
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"he Saint 



MyVWe'sPC 



by Alex St John 



My wife's computer is loaded with spy- 
ware. I've downloaded nearly every lead- 
ing spyware-removal product and nothing gets 
rid of it. Some of them broke the video games 
my company makes, others cleared all the harm- 
less cookies from my browser cache, and others 
even got rid of each other. But none removed 
the spyware plaguing my wife's computer. 
Everyone is sick of spyware, but I'm also sick of 
self-righteous spyware-removal products that 
don't work and screw up my computer. 

As I've said in previous columns, it's not 
actually possible in the Windows environment 
for an independent party to safely remove 
software from your computer, especially if that 
software doesn't want to be removed. Micro- 
soft doesn't know how to reliably remove soft- 
ware from its own OS, so why do many folks 
believe that the amateur hackers who make 
many popular spyware-removal products 
know better? 

Here are a few highlights from the EULA of 
one of the Internet's most popular and widely 
used spyware-removal products: 

Lb. Binary 

What do you get if you buy software? Lots of 
ones and zeros, nothing more. If they were distrib- 
uted as art, I could understand paying it. But if the 
main goal of their order is to earn money — by fees 
or ads — / don 't like it! 

Lc. Conclusion 

This means that I grant you the license to use 
Spybot-S&D as much as you like. But if you like 
it, I ask two things of you: say a prayer for me (and 
the most wonderful girl while you 're at it ;) ) to 
your god — or whatever you believe — and wish us 
some luck. 

IL Limitations 

However, removing the threats targeted by 
Spybot-S&D sometimes involves cutting deep 
into the system sometimes, and I cannot guar- 
antee that your system will be running the 
same as before. For example, spyware hosts may 
stop working. 

I can also give you no warranty that Spybot- 
S&D will remove every spy on your system, or that 
it will give you no false positives. 



ILc. Liability 

Under no circumstances can you make me liable 
for any damage, however caused, including, but 
not limited to damage you might do to your system 
using Spybot-S&D. 

This is a guy who knows you don't read 
EULAs and that you're going to blame the spy- 
ware for any ills your computer experiences 
from using his software. He enjoys having a 
righteous cause to screw around with Windows 
because, frankly, he hates all software sold for 
profit, and who epitomizes that evil practice 
more than Microsoft? 

Using third-party software to remove software 
it didn't install in the first place is always haz- 
ardous to your computer. You're either trying to 
remove malign software that's going out of its 
way to avoid removal or removing legitimate 
software you never intended to. Partial removal 
of software can make a mess of your OS. 

Spyware-removal companies make a lot of 
money or get a lot of ego points from getting 
you to use their software to muck with your 
computer. They try to abjure responsibility for 
the damage their software does by claiming they 
warn you of possible privacy/security threats 
and leave the decision to randomly delete files to 
you. They label as much stuff on your computer 
as possible a "threat" to help you appreciate the 
value of their product and buy it. They also 
invent phony measures of spyware intrusiveness, 
like "clot-factor," as though the number of files 
or Registry entries a program needs has any- 
thing at all to do with that software's impact on 
your system's performance, stability, or privacy. 

Registry entries and cookies are not the places 
where anybody hides anything on your comput- 
er. Software that wants to hide information on 
your computer does it by storing the info in a 
hidden file which no spyware-removal software 
can find. 

Meanwhile the real spyware infecting my 
wife's computer has crippled the Windows 
backup program, blocked Windows Update 
from patching the OS, hidden its process, and 
hijacked the browser without detection from 
ANY of the leading spyware-removal products, 
although her computer is free of any intrusive 
cookies, or coincidentally, competing spyware- 
removal products. A 






Alex St. John was one of the 

founding creators of Microsoft s 

DirectX technology. He is the 

subject of the book "Renegades 

Of The Empire " about 

the creation of DirectX and 

Chromeffects, an early effort 

by Microsoft to create a 

multimedia browser. Today 

Alex is President and CEO of 

WildTangent Inc., a technology 

company devoted to delivering 

CD-ROM quality entertainment 

content over the Web. 



Everyone is sick 
of spyware, but 
I'm also sick of 
self-righteous 
spyware- 
removal 
products that 
don't work and 
screw up 
my computer. 



Send your feedback to TheSaint@cpumag.com. 



14 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 











'•*1S..*« 



Ww? 



These Gizmos 
Don't Sing It, 
They Bring It 





Source: Anthis of Japan. 





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Blame it on too many hours in the springtime sun. 
All our Dream Hardware this month is a little 
weird in one way or another. Sorry, no time to explain or 
defend our picks; we're going back outside. Dream on. 

by Marty Sems 



■*■■■■■■■;. ^ .;,.iw ' 





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Roland FR-7 V-Accordion 

The poem "The Song of Roland" might have been a lot less 
gory had it been an accordion ditty, n'est-ce pas? Keyboard 
legend Roland strikes a cheerful chord with the new FR-7 
digital accordion ( www.rolandus.com ) . For $6,499, Mama 
gets a squeezebox that can mimic loads of other accordions, 
including historical Italian and German instruments. The 
FR-7 is fortified with its own speakers, and even becomes a 
MIDI controller when paired with Roland's FBC-7 
footswitch. Something like this could convince They Might 
Be Giants to return to its roots. Elsewhere in dreamland is 
Roland's new digital grand piano, the RG-7, whose $19,995 
price includes an LCD monitor. Fermata. Fine. Take a bow. 

Nikon D2X 

Let's get this out of the way first: 12.4 megapixels for $5,000, 
street price. Nikon's D2X digital SLR is a canny camera, but 
its neat WT-2A wireless accessory is the wingding that catches ■'% 
our eyes ($720 online; www.n i kon usa.com) . That 802.1 lg 
add-on uses Picture Transfer Protocol over IP and can let you 
control the camera remotely from a PC. There's an even 
dreamier option, of course. For a few grand more, you can 
take the D2X on your next dive. Nexus America (www 
.nexusamerica.com ) may ship its new underwater housing for 
the D2X by the time you read this. Early word hints at a 
maximum depth of 75 meters and a price around $3,000. 

Rinspeed Senso 

Saturday morning. The 1970s. After all the Hanna-Barbera 
cartoons were over, the live-action shows, such as "Shazam!" 
and the Hudson Brothers came on. The Senso concept car is 
an obvious homage to the freakishly "futuristic" vehicles in 
those shows in which everyone wore the same clothes in 
every episode. Get a load of those Burbank body shop silver 
panels and faux laser cannons. Check out the electrolumines- 
cent film interior that looks like it was fashioned from 
Sleestak skin. And of course, the inner lighting and music 
change to buoy the driver's mood as a computer monitors 
her biometrics. The Senso can recall each driver's settings by 
fingerprint recognition. Heck, the thing even generates 
soothing smells. Lest you snicker, know that this rocket 
burns petrol and natural gas in a Porsche Boxster S mill for a 
0-to-60mph time of about six seconds ( www.rinspeed.com) . 
Stick that in your pylon and smoke it, Will Marshall. 

CPU /May 2005" -1$! 



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R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 




Five Premium LCDs 
Put Through A Graphics Gauntlet 



For years, "gaming LCD" has elicited 
snickers from enthusiasts. Aesthetic- 
ally, LCDs are far easier on the eyes than 
bulky CRTs, but using an LCD for fast- 
paced shooters couldn't measure up to the 
responsiveness and image quality of a CRT. 

Response times (crucial for gaming per- 
formance) of smaller LCDs (19 inches and 
below) have recently broken into single- 
digital territory and may finally be palatable 
to even serious gamers. Manufacturers are 
also introducing huge widescreen displays 
with respectable response times. 

Although there seems to be an inverse 
relationship between an LCD's viewable 
area and its response time, can the big boys 
keep up with their smaller, faster kin and 
deliver a suitable gaming experience? How 
reliable are super-sized widescreen LCDs as 
all-around displays? They're great for multi- 
tasking, but do you want to use an LCD 
to screen a DVD with a group of friends 
watching at various extreme angles? 

To determine if bigger means better, I 
tested three premium widescreen LCDs. 
I also threw into the mix Sony's SDM- 
HS75P and ViewSonic's VP171b, two 17- 
inch LCDs with blazing-fast 8ms response 
times, to see if a low response time could 
make a noticeable difference in gaming. 

How We Tested 

These displays demand some muscle, 
so I recycled Falcon Northwest's new Mach 
V from last month's Dream PC shootout 
(page 56). With two PCI Express NVIDIA 
Geforce 6800 Ultra graphics cards, AMD's 
Athlon 64 FX-55, and ASUS' A8N-SLI 
Deluxe motherboard, the Mach V provided 
the graphics these LCDs demand. My 
video gauntlet began with DisplayMate's 



Multimedia Edition diagnostic software, a 
popular tool for exposing a display's short- 
comings. I also (happily) played Doom 3 
and Need For Speed Underground 2 to 
examine overall image quality and detail 
(the dark, shadowy environments in both 
games provided an excellent measure of 
contrast) and to check for ghosting, which 
has kept LCDs from gaining widespread 
acceptance among the gaming elite. 

I used DVD scenes from "Raiders of the 
Lost Ark" and the Ultimate Edition of 
"The Fifth Element" to represent different 
challenges that different movies present. I 
watched the opening cave scene in "Raiders 
of the Lost Ark" to observe how well each 
LCD handled contrast and detail in a 
heavily shadowed scene. In "The Fifth 
Element," I watched Leeloo and Korben's 
initial escape from the NYPD to see if the 
displays could produce a detailed, artifact- 
free image during a fast-moving scene. 

Apple 23-inch Cinema HD Display 

Apple has been the mainstream 
computing world's darling 
this past year, with the iPod 



23-inch Cinema 
HD Display 

$1,799 

Apple 

www.apple.com 



and Mac mini getting the lion's share of 
the attention, but Apple's three LCDs, 
measuring 20, 23, and 30 inches, are 
equally impressive. 

Design-wise, the Cinema HD Display 
was hit and miss. This was probably the 
prettiest display of the group, but substance 
definitely yielded to style. The solidly built 
display's front bezel is stunning, with only 
Apple's logo and a miniscule power LED 
gracing the front of the anodized alumi- 
num enclosure. However, the display is 
locked in a landscape position, unlike the 
Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW or HP L2335, 
which also give you a portrait mode. You 
also can't adjust this LCD's height. 

The Cinema HD Display's DisplayMate 
Multimedia Edition performance was gen- 
erally exceptional. Box Variation and 
Corner Circle tests revealed no distortions, 
and the LCD excelled in the Defocusing, 
Blooming, and Halos test with only a few 
faint halos. The LCD did very well in the 
Font Scaling test and was virtually perfect in 
the Video Bandwidth and Modulation test. 

The Cinema did stumble a few times in 
DisplayMate, however. I noticed color mis- 
registration on the corners and edges in the 
Focus Matrix test. In the Grayscale Shift, I 
saw more natural transition from gray to 
black than gray to white. As the scale shift- 
ed closer to pure white, I also noticed the 
brightest grays gave off a slightly pink hue. 

Doom 3's image quality was fantastic on 
the Cinema HD Display, but I noticed a 
fair amount of ghosting, especially when I 
encountered parts of the game with a high 
level of contrast (kiosks and faces being two 
good examples). When I started Need for 




CPU Ranking: \ = Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ Ng 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ >g^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



16 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



R D W A R E 



Speed Underground 2, 1 noticed a peculiar 
problem with the Cinema HD Display. 
Instead of stretching the image to fill the 
screen, it skewed the image to the left half 
of the screen, mangling the image. This 
also happened after the Windows Welcome 
screen and in Windows XP. After discus- 
sing the problem with Apple, we concluded 
the problem only occurred in an SLI sys- 
tem with a resolution below the display's 
native resolution. When I switched to a 
single card, the problem vanished. 

In "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the Cin- 
ema generally performed well, displaying 
good contrast in the golden idol's shadowy 
cave. I didn't notice any motion blur or 
streaking when the action heated up. Like- 
wise, there wasn't any motion blur in "The 
Fifth Element," and the display did an ad- 
mirable job displaying as close to a true 
black as possible. 

Aside from its quirky behavior when 
the test system's resolution wasn't set at 
1,920x1,200, the LCD produced a sharp, 
relatively consistent image. This is the most 
expensive display here, so you'll need to 
decide if the anodized aluminum finish is 
worth the extra cash. 

Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW 

About two months ago, Dell dropped a 
24-inch $1,200 bomb on the LCD world: 
the UltraSharp 2405FPW. On paper the 
display looks attractive with such features as 
a 1000:1 contrast ratio and 16ms response 
time. (Don't let Dell's 12ms response time 
claim fool you. The 2405FPW's black-to- 
white response time, 16ms, is the same as 
Apple's and HP's.) As a result, I wondered 
if Dell could deliver a double whammy of a 
superior display at a superior price. 

Maybe Apple's LCD spoiled me, but the 
2405FPW design didn't wow me. It's not 
ugly, but the humdrum, black plastic 
couldn't hold a candle to Apple's anodized 
finish. I liked the integrated 9-in-l card 
reader and multiple video inputs, so the 
LCD gets the edge in functionality. 

The 2405FPW showed flashes of bril- 
liance in Multimedia Edition, but it didn't 
blow away the competition. The Cinema 
HD would be peerless in the Video Band- 
width and Modulation test, but the 
2405FPW delivered an equally excellent 
performance. I saw excellent contrast in the 




Color Tracking test, especially with darker 
colors. I did run into slight color misregis- 
tration in the Focus Matrix test. The LCD 
couldn't match the HP L2335 in the Res- 
olution test. Otherwise, the 2405FPW was 
essentially on par with Apple and HP. 

I'll endorse the 2405FPW as the best 
widescreen gaming display because it pro- 
duced the best overall image of this trio. 
Although any differences in ghosting were 
negligible, the contrast and color in Doom 
3 and Need For Speed Underground 2 
were superb (though the L2335 handled 
flesh tones slightly better). I saw a good 
level of detail amidst the shadows in Doom 
3, and the colors of Need For Speed 
Underground 2's cars were highly accurate. 

"The Fifth Element's" vivid color palette 
looked very good on the 2405FPW. The 
blues, reds, and yellows, all prominent in 
the scene I watched, were bright without 
being garish, and even the fastest action 
produced no blur. Blacks were also 
very close to pure black. I favored 
the L2335 in "Raiders of the Lost 
Ark"; the 2405FPW couldn't 
quite match certain subtle details 
and colors I noticed on the L2335, 
or the Cinema HD Display, for 
that matter. 

L2335 

$1,399 

HP 

www.hp.com 



UltraSharp 2405FPW 

$1,199 

Dell 

www.dell.com 



Despite great images and 
above-average contrast over 
the entire color spectrum, the 
2405FPW's biggest asset may 
be its ridiculously low price. At $1,199, 
it's the cheapest widescreen LCD here, 
and considering that Dell is known for 
issuing stackable coupons, you should be 
able to snare this LCD for under a grand. 
With a three-figure price tag, it's hard to 
shun this LCD for any duty except hard- 
core gaming. 

HP L2335 

The L2335 is essentially the speakerless 
counterpart of HP's Pavillion f2304. I've 
never been wild about wimpy PC speakers, 
so I did some digging to find the L2335 in 
HP's business-oriented line of displays. If 
you can live without integrated speakers, 
the L2335 saves you about $700. The 
LCD has an overall good design. I like its 
sturdy base, and like the Dell 2405FPW, it 
has composite, S-Video, component, and 
analog and DVI inputs. 

The L2335 got off to a great start in 
DisplayMate. Although the Cinema HD 
Display outperformed it in the Video 
Bandwidth Index test (the checkerboard 



^Ng^N^ 




CPU Ranking: \ „ . = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ Ng 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ Ng^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 17 



R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 



pattern was far more pronounced on the 
L2335), I didn't see as much color regis- 
tration with the L2335 during the Focus 
Matrix test. The LCD also did well in 
the Video Resolution test, producing a 
very sharp image at full bandwidth. I saw 
better contrast with light grays on the 
L2335 than the Cinema HD, but the 
Cinema HD showed more contrast with 
darker grays. 

The L2335 and Cinema HD were 
essentially neck and neck until the Stuck 
Pixels test. On the L2335 at least 11 
stuck pixels (red and blue) were visible 
against a black background. A replace- 
ment HP sent had fewer stuck pixels. On 
this LCD the stuck pixels were scattered 
around the display's periphery instead of 
camped in the center. Unfortunately, the 
L2335 still had the most stuck pixels of 
any display I tested. 

In Doom 3, the HP L2335 produced a 
fantastic image. Ghosting was a little more 
pronounced on the L2335 than with the 
other LCDs. The stuck pixels weren't as 
bothersome on Doom 3 or Need For 
Speed Underground 2, but I don't like the 
idea of gambling with a premium LCD. 



Double-check the manufacturer's 
policy on stuck pixels (see our 
"Stuck Pixel Policies" sidebar) 
before buying. 

In our DVD scenes, the 
L2335's pixel problem didn't 
impair performance. The 
image quality in "The Fifth 
Element" was a shade below 
Apple's and Dell's offerings. 
(Leeloo's hair seemed to 
have a distinct yellow tint.) 
Otherwise, the L2335 pro- 
duced a serviceable image. 
The display handled 
"Raiders of the Lost 
Ark" very well, produc- 
ing a high level of detail 
and contrast. 

If you're feeling lucky, 
the L2335 is a solid offering, discounting 
the stuck pixels. But for such an expen- 
sive LCD, I'm not quite convinced it's 
worth the risk. 

Sony SDM-HS75P 

After overloading our rods and cones 
with giant widescreen goodness, taking a 




What To See In An LCD 

Determining an LCD's overall quality probably involves a greater number of qualitative 
factors than most other types of hardware, but certain specs, such as resolution, are still 
instructive. The number and type of inputs that a display has is also important. Here is what 
each of our LCDs has to offer. If an LCD seems to good to be true, it may not have a DVI input. 



SDM-HS75P 

$449.99 

Sony 

www.sony.com 



^N^S^N^ 



couple of steps down to evaluate our two 
mighty mites took more than a little ocular 
adjustment. Sony's SDM-HS75P has all 
the makings of a great gaming display. 
Aside from the aforementioned 8ms 
response time, the SDM-HS75P's bragging 
list extends to a 600: 1 contrast ratio and a 
400cd/m2 luminance. 





Ipple Cinema HD Display 


Dell UltraSharp 2405FPW 


HP L2335 


Sony SDM-HS75P 


ViewSonic VP1 71b 


Price 

Viewable 
image size 

Viewing angle 

Native resolution 

Max. refresh rate 
at native resolution 

Pixel pitch 

Contrast ratio 

Response time 
(black to white) 

Luminance (nits) 

Input signal 

Weight (pounds) 
VESA mount 
Warranty 
CPU rating 


$1,799 


: $1,199 


I $1,399 


J $449.99 


: $419 


23 inches widescreen « 


> 24 inches widescreen , 


> 23 inches widescreen , 


► 17 inches , 


» 17 inches 


170/170 ; 


! +/- 89 ; 


I 170/170 ! 


! 160/160 ; 


! 160/160 


1 ,920x1 ,200 I 


! 1,920x1,200 I 


I 1,920x1,200 I 


I 1 ,280x1 ,024 I 


I 1,280x1,024 


60Hz ; 


! 60Hz ; 


| 60Hz ; 


1 75Hz ; 

| (60Hz recommended) \ 


I 75Hz 

| (60Hz recommended) 



A 


.258mm « 


► 0.270mm « 


► 0.258mm < 


► 0.264mm 


» 0.264mm 


00:1 


► 1000:1 


► 500:1 


► 600:1 


► 500:1 


16ms J 


I 16ms | 


| 16ms J 


1 8ms \ 


| 8ms 


270 ; 


; 500 ; 


; 250 ; 


;400 


; 300 


dvi-d ; 


; HD-15;DVD-D;S-Video; ; 
> Composite; Component « 


; HD-15;DVI-I; J 
> Composite; S-Video; « 
| Component 


* HD-1 5 (analog); 
► DVI-D (digital) 


; HD-15(2x); DVI-D 


15.5 


► 22.1 


► 22.3 


► 12.6 


► 14.3 


100mm 


► 100mm 


► 100mm 


► 75mm * 


► 100mm 


C 

3 


)ne year « 


► Three years 


► Three years 


* Three years limited * 


► Three years 


.5 « 


► 4 


► 3 


►4 


► 3.5 



CPU Ranking: \. 

18 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



= Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



R D W A R E 




All things considered, 
this is one pretty LCD. (A 
silver model is also avail- 
able.) Like the Cinema 
HD Display, the SDM- 
HS75P doesn't have a 
swivel base. Although the brushed alu- 
minum only graces the lower portion of 
the bezel, the rest of the bezel is equally 
sharp, and the OSD buttons are unobtru- 
sively located beneath the bezel. 

The display turned in a great perfor- 
mance in Multimedia Edition. I didn't 
detect any stuck pixels, and the LCD 
excelled in the Scaled Fonts test. Color 
combinations usually painful to view 
(blue on red) or difficult to read (green on 
yellow) looked the best on Sony's display. 
In other tests the SDM-HS75P seemed to 
always be a bridesmaid but never a bride. 
In the Video Bandwidth and Modulation 
test and Resolution test, it couldn't quite 
match the Cinema HD Display and 
L2335. 1 would have preferred darker 
grays in the grayscale tests, and very light 
grays had a slightly pink tint. However, 
the SDM-HS75P handled colors very 
well in the Extreme Grayscale and Color 
Scales tests. 

If you can make a resolution compro- 
mise (the LCD's 1,280x1,024 native reso- 
lution won't let you enjoy a 1,600x1,200 
playground), Sony's LCD should provide 



VP171b 

$419 
ViewSonic 
www.viewsonic.com 



^N^^^S 



a great gaming experience. 
The 8ms response time virtu- 
ally eliminated ghosting in 
both games. Because response 
times should continue to 
tumble, buying an 8ms LCD 
as your primary gaming dis- 
play will put you solidly in 
the early adopter camp. But 
you shouldn't be disappoint- 
ed. I was very impressed with 
the image quality in both 
games, particularly Need For 
Speed Underground 2. Colors 
sprang to life, and I saw great 
detail even at a 1,280x1,024 
resolution. Although the 
ViewSonic VP171b's image 
quality was slightly better, the 
SDM-HS75P exhibited 
considerably less motion 
blur, giving Sony's dis- 
play a slight edge as a 
gaming monitor. 

Because of its size, I 
really can't recommend 
the SDM-HS75P (or 
VP171b) for DVD afi- 
cionados, even though it took top hon- 
ors in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I 
strained to notice any motion blur or 
color-tracking errors, and the SDM- 
HS75P was quite impressive overall. 
"The Fifth Element" wasn't quite as 
inspiring. Certain buildings had a faint 
muddy red tint, and yellow taxis had a 
slight orange tint. Other colors also 
weren't quite as rich. Despite resolution 
limitations, enjoying a DVD on a 17- 
inch LCD might be impossible. 

ViewSonic VP1 71b 

At press time ViewSonic and BenQ 
had announced 5 ms 17-inch LCDs 
would be hitting shelves soon, but this 
display is nothing to sneeze at. With a 
500:1 contrast ratio and 300cd/m2 lumi- 
nance, it stacks up well as a slightly 
cheaper alternative. 

This display doesn't have the same 
slick look as Sony's, but it's swivel base 
and adjustable height is more flexible 
than the SDM-HS75P. You can also 
switch the display from landscape to por- 
trait, although the difference is negligible. 



LCDictionary 

contrast ratio — Contrast ratio is 
a measure of a display's darkest 
black compared to its lightest 
white. An LCD with a 500:1 
contrast ratio can theoretically 
produce a black 500 times darker 
than its lightest white. 

luminance — Luminance, mea- 
sured in cd/m2 (candelas per 
meter squared), determines an 
LCD's brightness. A larger num- 
ber indicates a brighter LCD. 

native resolution — CRTs can dis- 
play images at resolutions below 
their maximum resolution with- 
out distortion, but LCDs are 
designed to operate at a specific 
resolution, or its native resolution. 
Lowering an LCD's resolution 
below its native resolution causes 
it to scale the image to fit on the 
screen, distorting the image. This 
is especially problematic when dif- 
ferent resolutions don't have the 
same aspect ratio. For example, a 
1,280x1,024 display has a 5:4 
ratio, while 640x480, 800x600, 
and 1,024x768 resolutions have a 
4:3 ratio. 

response time — A crucial bench- 
mark for LCDs, especially for 
gaming and watching DVDs, 
response time is the amount of 
time it takes for a liquid crystal 
cell to change from black to 
white and back. Measured in 
milliseconds, lower times reduce 
ghosting or motion blur. 

viewing angle — An LCD's viewing 
angle is important for producing a 
quality picture when viewing head 
on, but a display should also pro- 
duce a good image for a larger 
audience scattered about a room. 
An LCD's viewing angle deter- 
mines the angle a viewer should see 
roughly the same image as a viewer 
sitting in front of the display. Most 
widescreen LCDs have a viewing 
angle of 170 degrees. 



CPU Ranking: \ „ . = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ Ng 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ Ng^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 19 



R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 



Video Card & LCD Tips 



You've had years to master your knowledge of CRTs and video cards. Now that LCD 
technology is starting to catch up, it's time for a new course of study. 

• Know your outputs. Although most LCDs still have analog inputs, some are picki- 
er. Certain DVI cables are only compatible with specific DVI outputs on a graphics 
card. DVI-D is a true digital signal for digital LCDs. DVI-A is a format to carry a DVI 
signal to an analog display. DVD-I is the most versatile; it will accept both a DVI-D 
and DVI-A source signal. 

• Single-link vs. Dual-link. DVI-D and DVI-I formats can use either single-link or 
dual-link format connectors. Single-link connectors can display a maximum reso- 
lution of 1,920x1,080 at 60Hz; dual-link connectors have a limit of 2,048x1,536. 
Now that widescreen LCDs' resolutions have reached such gargantuan propor- 
tions, this is important to consider. 

• 60Hz is OK. On CRT monitors, an 80 to 85Hz refresh rate is considered ideal; a 
60Hz refresh rate is generally too low and can even cause headaches after pro- 
longed exposure. But on an LCD, 60Hz is the standard refresh rate. 

• Pitch pixel pitch. A CRT's dot pitch is one way to measure its image quality, but 
an LCD's pixel pitch is less important because the pixel pitch for two identically 
sized LCDs should be identical. Other factors, such as contrast ratio and response 
time, are better measures of an LCD's quality. 

• 3D gaming. Our LCDs had more than enough resolution to run today's games at 
their maximum resolution, but big-time resolutions require big-time graphics 
cards. Want to run Counter-Strike: Source at 1,600x1,200? That Radeon 9600 isn't 
going to cut it. 



Despite a great start in Multimedia 
Edition, the VP 171b ran out of steam. I 
didn't see any stuck pixels, and it did well 
in the Video Bandwidth and Modulation 
and Focus Matrix tests. It also matched 
the competition in the Scaled Fonts and 
Resolution tests, but I wasn't impressed 
with its APL Black-Level Shift, Grayscale 



Shift, and Extreme Grayscale tests perfor- 
mance. It had subpar contrast and strug- 
gled with most colors in the Extreme 
Grayscale test. Very light grays didn't have 
the same pink tint as other LCDs, but I 
saw a distinct green shade on darker grays. 
The VP171b did a fantastic job with 
both Doom 3 and Need For Speed 






Underground 2. In Doom 3 the LCD 
and the Ultra Quality setting produced 
a near cinematic gaming experience. 
Color quality and detail in the cut 
scenes were high points, and colors 
popped in Need For Speed. The display 
would have beaten the SDM-HS75P 
for best pint-sized gaming display, but 
ghosting hampered it. You won't neces- 
sarily be disappointed with the VP171b 
for gaming, but you'll be slightly happi- 
er with the SDM-HS75P. 

The VP171b gained the upper hand 
in "The Fifth Element" with accurate 
colors, and the motion blur problems in 
Doom 3 didn't translate to similar prob- 
lems during fast action sequences. The 
contrast problems in DisplayMate were 
also apparent in "Raiders of the Lost 
Ark." Subtle shades and details I noticed 
on the SDM-HS75P weren't readily 
apparent on the VP171b. 

The VP171b is a pretty solid option 
considering its retail price, but it could 
not quite match the SDM-HS75P's all 
around performance. 

Resolution Revolution 

I can't slight the 1,280x1,024 resolu- 
tion of the SDM-HS75P and VP171b 
too much; both are only 17 inches. But 
once you experience the Texas-sized 
space of a 23-inch LCD, you'll have a 
serious case of resolution envy with 
anything less. A 

by Vince Cogley 



Stuck Pixel Policies 



You can make many adjustments 
to today's LCDs to optimize your 
viewing experience, but once a 
pixel becomes frozen on a partic- 
ular color (or dead altogether), 
there's nothing you can do to fix 
it. Depending on their location 
on your screen, stuck pixels can 
range from a minor inconve- 
nience to a major distraction. 
Most major manufacturers have 
policies that can provide you 
with a replacement. 




Acer: No more than four defective pixels per million on a given display 
Apple: Conforms to ISO 1 3406 standard for pixel anomalies 
BenQ: Five defective pixels or one defective pixel in the center of a 3x3 grid 



Dell: Six fixed pixels or "several fixed pixels in a small area of the screen" 

HP: Three bright subpixel defects, five dark subpixel defects, five total 
subpixel defects, or full-pixel defects 

LG: Two defective pixels in any quadrant of a 2x2 grid 



NEC/Mitsubishi: Varies according to display size 
Samsung: defective pixels 

Sony: Conforms to ISO 1 3406 standard for pixel anomalies 



ViewSonic: Seven defective pixels 



CPU Ranking: \. 

20 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



= Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ n^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



Denon's philosophy is simple. 



Either 
you're 



innovating 



or 
you're 



imitating. 




DENON 



<& <& f& & 



l^+X THX SURROUND EX P mil bJSU 



DDSC IhDCDl 



Introducing Denon's New AVR-5805 

The World's First 10-channel A/V Receiver With Fully Configurable 4-zone Capabilities 

A Breakthrough In Multi-source, Multi-zone Flexibility 

For the home entertainment enthusiast and custom installer alike, Denon's new AVR-5805 delivers unprecedented four-zone home 
entertainment integration and control — all from a single component. With 10 configurable and discrete amplifiers, 16-channels of 
audio output, and the world's first-ever ability to drive two fully independent 5.1 systems, the AVR-5805 will also route audio and video 
signals from up to four independent sources and distribute them to up to four separate zones throughout the home. Its advanced 
capabilities even allow discrete power, source selection and volume control of each zone. And flexibility is just the beginning. Read on. 

Masterful Technologies And A "Sweet Spot" For Every Listener 

Behind the AVR-5805's newly designed, easy-to-read front panel display is a profusion of powerful technologies. An Equal Power 
amplifier section delivers a massive 170 watts of high-current power into each of its ten channels, processing for every popular 
7.1-, 6.1- and 5.1-channel surround sound format — from Dolby (including Pro Logic llx) and dts, to THX Ultra2 and THX Surround EX. 
The AVR-5805 also introduces the latest in Auto Setup Calibration and Equalization with the Audyssey MultEQ XT system, tailoring 
sound not only to the listening environment but also to the audience. This advanced technology analyzes and calibrates six critical 
settings including variable crossover point detection. It also determines the correct frequency response for up to six separate 
listener positions and then averages all six. The result? Literally a "sweet spot" for every listener in the room. 



• 505 APPLECREE 



VARD, MARKHAM, ONI 



• 9054754085 • 



This is innovation 



Advanced Video Conversion And Denon's Exclusive Circuitry 

The AVR-5805 offers a full complement of advanced processing capabilities like HDMI/DVI digital video selection, video up-scaling 
(including Faroudja DCDi technology for analog sources) and the world's first dual, independent video conversion for unmatched simplicity 
and the highest picture quality from all your video gear. For even greater A/V performance, it employs the most advanced Texas Instruments' 
and Analog Devices' 32-bit DSP processors, Burr-Brown 24-bit/l 92kHz audio DACs, as well as Denon's newly improved DDSC-D 
(Dynamic Discrete Surround Decoder-Digital). And to top it off, exclusive Advanced AL24 Processing Plus circuitry maximizes all source 
signals so that the high-resolution DA converters work at peak capacity. 

More Connection Options Than Any Receiver In The Industry 

In addition to an extensive complement of digital and analog A/V connections, the AVR-5805 includes a full array of "custom installation" 
features: assignable high amperage DC trigger outputs, dual RS-232C ports to facilitate integrated system and PC connectivity, and a 
built-in Ethernet port that adds more system control as well as future updates and upgrades. In-demand connection options include 
6 high-bandwidth (100 MHz,) HDTV-compatible component video inputs, HD switching for 2 zones and much more. Finally, the latest 
version of Denon Link 3 and dual IEEE-1394 inputs allow for reception of high-resolution, multi-channel digital audio data directly from 
compatibly equipped DVD players. It all adds up to total flexibility and the ultimate level of sonic performance. Denon does it again. 



The First Name in Digital Audio 



R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 



ASUS 171 V 915PM Notebook Chassis 



Barebones notebook systems make great 
platforms on which power users may 
build customized configurations. 
Well, almost completely, at 
least. ASUS' Z71V doesn't in- 
clude a processor, memory, 
wireless networking, or any disk 
drives, but it does come with 
a NVIDIA GeForce Go 6600 
discrete graphics processor and 
128MB of memory. Although 
the platform centers on PCI 
Express and is theoretical- 
ly very modular, there 
is still no infrastruc- 
ture in place to 
sell mobile graphics 
upgrades or verify that a GeForce 
6800, for example, would be thermally fea- 
sible. Nevertheless, the Go 6600 is still able 




to push 40fps in Doom 3 running a 250- 
MHz core and 400MHz memory bus. 
The fastest Pentium M processor cur- 
rently runs at 2.13GHz; 
however, ASUS is claiming 
that the Z71V will contin- 
ue supporting upcoming 
Pentium models right up to 
2.5GHz and beyond. Nat- 
urally, because it centers on 
915PM core logic, the note- 
book also works with DDR2 
memory modules at up to 
533MHz in dual-channel ar- 
rangements. There are only two 
slots total, though, so buy larger 
modules to avoid replacing memory 
down the road. 
Gigabit Ethernet comes built in, but 
in order to call your Z71V a Centrino 



Specs: Intel 915PM MCH, ICH6-M, NVIDIA GeForce 6600 Go 128MB, 15.4-inch WSXGA+ 
(1,680x1,050), dual-channel DDR2 memory support, integrated Gigabit Ethernet, 5 USB 2.0 
ports, Azalia audio. 6.5 lbs 



ATI All-in-Wonder X800 XT 



Close your eyes and picture the ideal 
graphics card. The All-in-Wonder 
X800 XT is the closest I've ever seen to 
that idealized vision. Sure, it's no quad- 
SLI setup with onboard HDTV tuning, 
but it does combine a lot of very real- 
istic functionality at a lower price than 
most other high-end cards. And it's 
currently available. 

ATI's Radeon X800 XT core is the 
card's most prominent feature, running 
at 500MHz and complemented by 256- 
MB of similarly clocked GDDR-3 mem- 
ory. Compared to older All-in-Wonder 
cards, the new X800 XT runs right past 
in the latest games thanks to its 16 paral- 
lel pipelines. Naturally, you get DirectX 
9.0b compatibility, too. 

A diminutive, silicon TV-tuner chip 
replaces the large Philips tin of yes- 
teryear, freeing up space on the All-In- 
Wonder board. ATI claims that the new 



tuner enables better quality, lower power 
consumption, and of course, more room 
to mount other components. In turn, 
ATI took the opportunity to implement 
better display connectivity, incorporat- 
ing DVI output, VGA output, and 
a proprietary connector all on 
the board's back panel. A 
dongle extends from 
that third connec- 



Z71 V 915PM Notebook Chassis 

$800 

ASUS 

(510)739-3777 

www.asus.com 

^^^^ 

notebook, you'll need an approved wire- 
less MiniPCI card, too. The only other 
devices you'll need are a hard drive (either 
SATA or PATA) and an optical drive 
(many are supported). ASUS even in- 
cludes an 8-cell Li-Ion battery and a 
switching AC adapter. 

The Z71V is somewhat plain from 
an aesthetic perspective. However, the 
notebook is much slimmer (less than 1 .4 
inches) and lighter (6.5 pounds) than a 
last-generation desktop replacement. In 
turn, it's more mobile, performs better, 
and costs less. Although I could do with- 
out the high-pitched fan noise that 
seems to start and stop, everything else 
about the Z7 IV is very polished. A 

by Chris Angelini 

AII-ln-WonderX800XT 

$499 

ATI 

(905) 882-2600 

www.ati.com 

^ \g^ \^ \g^ \g^ 



tor, accepting 
cable input, 
an FM anten- 
na, and the 
various I/O blocks 
died with the card. 

The best part about ATI's All-In- 
Wonder X800 XT is its value. Stan- 
dard X800 XT cards sell for roughly 
$450 online. Add the included Remote 
Wonder II, a $50 value, and you are 
already above this card's $499 MSRP. 




Specs: 500MHz X800 XT GPU; 256MB GDDR-3 at 500MHz; TV tuner; DVI; VGA; component, 
composite, S-video, stereo audio, and S/PDIF outputs; S-video, composite, and stereo audio 
inputs; FM tuner; Remote Wonder II; AGP 8X interface 



Consider the soft- 
ware bundle, multime- 
dia connectivity, and tuner 
capability, as well. My only gripe is 
that the All-in-Wonder X800 XT 
is exclusively available in AGP 8X 
trim. Don't worry if you jumped 
on the PCI Express bandwagon early, 
though. Representatives at ATI won't 
talk about upcoming versions, but they 
will concede that PCI-E is the natural 
progression for future models. A 

by Chris Angelini 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ >g^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 

24 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



R D W A R E 



VIEWS 



MXI Outbacker 



Specs: 0.7 inches high x 2.8 inches wide x 4.3 inches deep; 8.8 ounces; operating shock resistance: 
250G, nonoperating shock resistance: 1,000G 



MXI's (Memory Experts Inter- 
national) Outbacker is the first 
mobile hard drive with an integrated fin- 
gerprint scanner tied to 128-bit AES 
data encryption. With Outbacker, an 
administrator can create accounts for up 
to five users. Each user can enroll from 
five to 10 fingertips. When a user plugs 
the Outbacker into his or her PC via a 
USB connection, blinking red or green 
LEDs indicate authentication, denial, or 
an exceeded number of attempts (where 
all users are locked out, and the admin 
must supply a password). 

Furthermore, Windows is only allowed 
to communicate with the drive when it 
authenticates. The notable part of this 
process is that all authentication happens 
on the drive, and no data is sent back to 
the PC. Also, each user has a private/ 
invisible data partition. 



I made a 10GB 
backup that con- 
tained everything 
from Photoshop 
projects to Word 
documents to a cou- 
ple of gigs of MP3s 
and transferred it to 
the 20GB Outbacker 
in 15:22 (minutes:seconds), 
yielding a 10.85MBps transfer rate. 
On Seagate's 100GB 2.5-inch Portable 
External Hard Drive, the test completed 
in 11:20 (l4.7MBps transfer rate). How- 
ever, Seagate uses a 5,400rpm drive with 
8MB cache. I took the Outbacker apart 
and found that its drive was unlabeled, 
but I learned later that MXI uses a 
4,200rpm drive with 20Gb cache. 

If users follow the instructions and 
remember to put the center of their 




Outbacker 20GB 

$499 

MXI 

(888) 440-0400 

www.memoryexpertsinc.com 

fingertip on the center of 
the sensor every time they 
authenticate, the Out- 
backer is a precise, reli- 
able device. However, if 
users forget the center-to- 
center rule, unlocking the drive becomes 
a hit-and-miss affair. But, the metal cas- 
ing is rugged, the purple rubber pads at 
the corners protect from light drops, 
and the drive delivers for those who can 
afford, and need, top-notch security. A 

by William Van Winkle 



ABIT Fatality AN8 



Specs: Slots: 1 xl6 PCI-E, 2 xl PCI-E, 3 PCI; PATA: 2; SATA: 4; Fan headers: 4 3x1; Audio: Realtek 
5.1 (ALC658), 5-1/8-inch analog jacks, optical SPDIF in and out; LAN - NVIDIA GbE only 



The price difference between the ABIT 
AN8 and the ABIT Fatality AN8 is 
about $65. The Fatality has the nForce4 
Ultra, while the standard AN8 has NF4. 
This means Fatality owners get SATA II, 
Active Armor, and mixed PATA/SATA 
RAID; a red PCB; and red LEDs under the 
board. Both designs have the red-lighted, 
shrouded Dual OTES fans for cooling the 
power circuitry, but the Fatality adds 
another dual-fan block ("RAMFlow") that 
clips onto the DIMM retention clips. 

The Fatality earns its $65 premium, 
but it still missteps. First, my review unit 
ran right on par with the DFI board — with 
Optimized BIOS settings. Out of the box, 
it ran 2 to 5% slower. The Fatality is 




loaded with over- 
clocking features. 
Plus, you get 
all of ABIT's 
uGuru functionali- 
ty, including Auto 
Drive, which lets you 
create overclocking profiles 
that launch along with speci- 
fied applications. 

ABIT's biggest stumble is the use of 
NVIDIA's NF4 Ultra rather than SLI. 
Also, although I applaud ABIT's use of an 
audio riser card to minimize board noise, 
going with Realtek's 5.1 (ALC658) in- 
stead of a 7.1 option seems shortsighted. 
And, using a single 1394a header rather 
than 1394b may come back to bite some 



Fatality AN8 

$250 

ABIT 

(510)623-0500 

www.abit-usa.com 



^^^^s; 



buyers. I don't mind that the Dual OTES 
forces out the serial and parallel legacy 
ports because I have not touched either 
port type in years. 

Although not a stunner on out-of-the- 
box performance and missing a couple of 
key forward-looking features, the Fatality 
AN 8 is still an excellent gaming board at a 
fair price. A 

by William Van Winkle 



nForce4 Ultra Boards 








j3DMark05v1.1.0 


Doom 3 i Half-Life 2 ! PCMark 2004 v1 .2.0 


WM Encoder 9 


j Vendor j Model 


Bus Speed j 1 ,024x768x32 


demoi 1,024x768, "I System j CPU Memory j HDD i 165MB AVI at 
8x6 ultra I custom demo file I i DVD and CD VBR ! 


DFI NF4 Ultra-D 


200 4575 


108.4 77.19 4827 4488 5641 


4886 3:16 


ABIT Fatality A8N 


200 4568 


105.1 75.92 4556 4212 5464 


4858 3:42 


(BIOS mode: 


4589 


109.3 77.46 4895 4567 5641 


4840 3:25 


Optimized) 








Test bed: AMD Athlon 64 4000+, 1GB Corsair TwinX-3200XL 2-2-2-5, NVIDIA reference 6800 GT, Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 200GB SATA, Windows XP SP2 





CPU Ranking: \ = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average Ng^ ^ ^ Ng^ \^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 25 



Micra 6 



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R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 



Are Wireless Headphones 

Ready To Rock? 

How many times have you snagged your headphones' wire on a chair arm? Enough of 
that. I wanted to see if today's wireless headphones are up to the audio challenge. 




i-PHONO BT420EX 

$195.95 

Bluetake 

(626) 369-9888 

www.bluetake.com 

The low-down on Bluetake's debut 
Bluetooth headset is that the 
functionality is stellar, but the fidelity 
sounds like a $20 set of wired head- 
phones. The BT420EX looks flimsy and 
ungainly, but I actually found it to be 
quite comfortable. The speaker enclo- 
sures are large and dangle awkwardly 
from one's ears, but the light weight 
and collapsible design makes amends. 



by William Van Winkle 

The BT420EX ships with a few extras. 
The Bluetooth dongle is a fairly thin, 
two-inch square block that plugs into any 
3.5mm audio jack and acts as a bridge 
between the audio source and the head- 
phones. Bluetake throws in both AC and 
USB charging cables, as well as a Y split- 
ter so you can charge the headphones and 
dongle simultaneously. 

A swinging microphone boom built 
into the right speaker accommodates 
voice calling or PC headset use. I paired 
the BT420EX with an Audiovox Blue- 
tooth smartphone and was impressed by 
the signal clarity and mic sensitivity. In 
general, I found Bluetake's connectivity 
stayed solid up to 20 to 30 feet. 

Compared to HP, Bluetake has a 
slight lead on bass response but falls 
short on highs and lacks the power to 
provide crisp audio or sufficient volume 
for noisy environments. The BT420EX 
is great for voice work, good for movies, 
and fair for music. 




iPAQ Bluetooth Stereo Headphones 

$99 

HP 

(800) 752-0900 

www.hp.com 



Yes, these rechargeable headphones will 
work with devices besides an iPAQ. In 
fact, I connected to a PC via Bluetake's 
BT007si USB dongle. However, HP's 



software will let you play, pause, and track 
forward and back on audio files played 
through a Bluetooth-enabled iPAQ by 
pressing the appropriate button on the 
right speaker. 

Logitech manufactures HP's head- 
phones, which explains why the set delivers 
markedly crisper sound with better highs 
and mids than Bluetake. The speaker en- 
closures are more compact, too. Unfor- 
NSSj^ ^S^ \J> tunately, the headphones pinched the ears, 
and the speakers were tight on my head. 

At half the price of Bluetake, HP's set 
is only for music listening. Hopefully, 
you won't be too uncomfortable to 
enjoy the experience. 




RS130 

$169.95 

Sennheiser 

(860)434-9190 

www.sennheiserusa.com 

I also evaluated Sennheiser's new 
863MHz or 926MHz (depending on 
range), open-air headphones to test 
audio quality beyond Bluetooth. The 
advantage of open air is light comfort. 
What you lose is punch. Sennheiser's 
bass is fair, but don't let the 18Hz spec 
fool you. The RS 130 was actually quite 
good in mid and upper ranges. Overall, 
the RS 130 is satisfactory for music but 
best suited to movie listening. I didn't 
care for the SRS surround enhancements 
with music but found several occasions 
where it improved movies. 

Sennheiser's cradle features a metal loop 
that serves both as a rest for the head- 
phones, as well as a charger. Two AAA 
NiMH batteries slip into the left head- 
phone, while a volume dial and RF scan- 
ning button are on the right. The audio 
cabling attached to the base features RCA 
connectors, but Sennheiser includes a 
3.5 mm adapter. 

If audio/video listening in the home is 
your main concern, there's no question that 
the RS 130 outperforms its Bluetooth com- 
petitors on fidelity, reception range (up to 
150 meters), and battery time (22 hours). 
The only major drawback I found was the 
high amount of background hiss, which 
was plain to hear during quiet passages. 



Specs (i-PHONE): BT profiles support- 
ed: Advanced Audio Distribution, 
Headset, Hands-Free, Serial Port; rated 
listening time: 6 hours; dimensions 
(folded): 3.9 inches high x 3.5 inches 
wide x 3 inches deep; 3.45 ounces 

Specs (iPAQ): Rated listening time: 8 



nuurs, uimensiuns. o.o inunes niyn x <+ .o 
inches wide x 2.7 inches deep; 3.1 ounces 

Specs (RS): SNR: >68dBA; frequency 
response: 18 to 21 ,000Hz; base dimen- 
sions: 8.9 inches high x 3.3 inches wide x 
5.2 inches deep; headphones: 9.9 ounces 



CPU Ranking: \ = Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^> ^ ^ ^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



28 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



R D W A R E 



AOpen EY855-II Small Form Factor Chassis 



get USB 2.0 support, 6-channel audio 
output through a set of 1/8-inch mini- 
jacks, optical output, coaxial output, 
IEEE 1394a, and Gigabit Ethernet. 

Installation is standard, and the chas- 
sis accommodates one optical drive, an 
externally accessible 3.5-inch drive, and 
one hard drive. You won't be able to use 
a dual-slot graphics card due to the AGP 
slot positioning, but there is enough 



AOpen has just started shipping its 
first Pentium M cube based on 
the previous generation Centrino's 
855GME chipset. It is admittedly dated, 
wielding an AGP 4X graphics slot and 
single-channel DDR333 memory sup- 
port, but at least it operates nearly 
silently. The AOpen EY855-II accom- 
modates Socket 479 Pentium M proces- 
sors at up to 2.13GHz. And although 
the product documentation claims 
that the cube tops out with 400MHz 
FSB processors, representatives at 
AOpen were able to confirm support 
for the newest 533MHz Pentium M 
chips, too. 

The rest of the EY855-H's specifica- 
tions are pretty much in line with its 
aging chipset. There's no SATA sup- 
port; rather, the ICH4M component 
contributes two channels of standard 
ATA/ 100 connectivity. Fortunately, you 



Specs: Socket 479 Pentium M, Intel 855GME chipset, 1 AGP 4X, 1 PCI, up to 2GB 
DDR333 SDRAM in 2 slots, 2 channels ATA/100 support, 6-channel audio via Realtek 
ALC655, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire support, 4 USB 2.0 



\c 



3. 




EY855-II Small 
Form Factor Chassis 

$320 

AOpen 

(888) 972-6736 

usa.aopen.com 



room for an X700 Pro or similar SFF- 
friendly accelerator. 

Without an alluring list of features to 
flaunt, the EY855's best qualities include 
a 275W power supply and near-silent 
operation. Heat dissipation is remarkably 
low for Pentium M processors, and the 
active cooler is comparably quite large. 
Therefore, you'll hardly hear the EY855- 
II running should you employ a passively 
cooled graphics card. 

Given little competition, AOpen's first 
Pentium M SFF offering is a welcome 
alternative for the media center crowd 
accustomed to noisy Pentium 4 and Athlon 
64 solutions. But, it's only a matter of time 
before someone unveils a similar design 
with Intel's latest mobile chipset. A 

by Chris Angelini 



Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB Hard Drive 



Capacity and performance reign su- 
preme when it comes to the storage 
scene. Unfortunately, a trade-off occurs 
when you want one quality or the other. 
That's about to change as Seagate rolls 
out its Barracuda 7200.8 400GB drive, a 
native SATA design with the performance 
to match staggering capacity. It spins at 
7,200rpm, so don't expect ultra-low access 
times. But NCQ support and an 8MB 
cache guarantee snappy responsiveness. In 
fact, though the drive tests are slower than 
Hitachi's Deskstar in PCMark04 and HD 



Tach's access test, the Barracuda 
7200.8 is faster in sustained 
transfers. Hook it up in a 
RAID array and the average 
transfer speeds nearly double. 
Seagate has a reputation for 
advanced acoustics, and this 
Barracuda is no exception. Another 
strong point is Seagate's five-year warranty, 
which compares favorably to competing 
three-year guarantees. Those two points, 
plus impressive performance, all add up to 
make the Barracuda 7200.8 400GB the 






Seagate 7200.8 
400GB x2 


Seagate 7200.8 
400GB 


Hitachi Deskstar 


PCMark04 HDD Test 


7042 


4699 


5206 


Sandra 2005 File 
System Benchmark 


108MBps 


58MBps 


52MBps 


HDD Tach Average Read 


92MBps 


59.1 MBps 


48.1 MBps 



HDD Tach Access 13.8ms 15.5ms 12.6ms 

Specs: Native SATA 1.5Gbps, 400GB capacity, 8MB cache, 7,200rpm, NCQ support, 
SoftSonic motor, 5-year warranty 



Barracuda 
7200.8 400GB 

$350 

Seagate 

(800) 732-4283 

www.seagate.com 



sexiest desktop drive 
I've seen from Seagate. 
As a side note, don't let 
the impending shift to SATA 
3Gbps slow down your upgrade plans. 
According to representatives at Seagate, 
we're still a few months away from seeing 
any of the next-generation drives. And 
even when those drives emerge, you won't 
necessarily reap a significant performance 
improvement. The real draw of 3Gbps 
technology isn't so much more speed, any- 
way, it's the capacity to connect multiple 
drives to a single SATA connector using 
port multipliers and not saturating that 
communications channel. A 

by Chris Angelini 



CPU Ranking: \ = Absolutely Worthless >g£ \^i ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ >g^ \g£> 5 = Absolutely Perfect 

CPU /May 2005 29 



R D W A R E 



REVIEWS 



Wi-Fi Detectors 

Scanning for a Wi-Fi detector? Consider 
the Digital Hotspotter from Canary 
Wireless. The Hotspotter's LCD shows 
the detected access point's name, signal 
strength, open/secure status, and channel. 

Canary's ability to report an AP's en- 
cryption makes the Hotspotter a terrific 
war driving time-saver (although there are 
lower than expected signal strength read- 
ings). Also, Canary's thick, pocket- 
unfriendly design is bothersome. 

Kensington's rubberized WiFi Finder 



key fob. The first five LEDs indicate 
signal strength of the AP within reach, 
although the Finder can't indicate encryp- 
tion status. Hold down the scan button 
to deliver continuous readings to target 
the strongest reception point. There's 
also a blue LED for Bluetooth network 
detection, as well as a yellow/orange 
LED flashlight. 

PCTEL's WiFi Seeker's price and 
accuracy are almost identical to Ken- 
sington, although PCTEL scans much 
faster than Kensington. The Seeker is 
smaller than the Finder, but you lose the 
flashlight, Bluetooth sensing, and sexier 



Plus makes an attractive yet 


comfortable 


look. You have to 


keep the scan 


button 


Wi-Fi Detectors 


Residential Street 


Number of APs detected 


Strength 


of strongest AP 




Notebook/windows zero config 
Canary Digital Hotspotter 
Kensington WiFi Finder Plus 
PCTEL WiFi Seeker 


6 
3 

N/A 
N/A 




4 of 5 
2 of 4 

1 to 2 of £ 

2 of 4 






Corporate Park 2 


Number of APs detected 


Strength 


of strongest AP 




Notebook/windows zero config 
Canary Digital Hotspotter 
Kensington WiFi Finder Plus 
PCTEL WiFi Seeker 


5 

1 

N/A 

N/A 




5 of 5 
2 of 4 
5 of 5 
4 of 4 







Specs (Digital Hotspotter): approx. 2.5 inches high x 2.2 inches wide x 1 inch deep; 
detects 802.1 1b/g; indicator: 4 steps plus channel and open/secure status 

Specs (WiFi Finder Plus): 3.5 inches high x 1 .6 inches wide x 0.5 inches deep; detect! 
802.1 1 b/q; indicator: 5 steps for 802.1 1 b/q, 1 indicator for Bluetooth 



Specs (WiFi Seeker): 2.25 inches high x 1 .20 inches * 
802.1 1 b/q; indicator: 4 steps 



de x 0.43 inches deep; detects 



Thermaltake Armor VA8000SWA 



Thermaltake's new Armor tower is a 
storage junkie's dream come true. 
Thanks to optional format bays and drive 
cages, you could stack up to eight hard 
drives in it with six bays left for 5. 2 5 -inch 
devices or 10 5. 2 5 -inch devices with four 
hard drive slots. The first of 1 1 bays 
sports the power and reset buttons, while 
the bottom bay features a removable 
drawer for essential CDs. 

Thermaltake provides two 120mm 
fans (17dB) and two 90mm fans (19db), 
all of which feature blue LEDs. The 
floor is riddled with air holes and much 
of the top is vented. Moreover, every 
bay cover has a two-option grill (a 3.5- 
inch grill sits inside of a 5.25-inch grill) 
and removable air filter. 




The Plexiglas side 
panel, 5.25-inch 
drives, and seven PCI 
slots all feature tool- 
less installation or re- 
moval. Also notable 
are the BTX upgrade 
kit option and 
circular cutouts for 
watercooler tubing. 

There are a few 
internal rough edges 
and corners. Rickety 
plastic touches, such as 
the circular door on the 
top-mounted ports and the toolless locks 
on the drive bays, cheapen the tower's 
appearance. Also, I didn't like the 



it 



held down on the Seeker instead of a 
short click. 

A device with Kensington's looks and 
Canary's functionality would be ideal. 
Until then, all of these devices are some- 
thing of a serious compromise. A 

by William Van Winkle 

The Digital Hotspotter (model HS10) 

$59.95 
Canary Wireless 
(888) 898-0400 
www.canarywireless.com 



WiFi Finder Plus 

$29.99 

Kensington 

(650) 572-2700 

www.kensington.com 






Ng^^Ng 




WiFi Seeker 

$29.95 

PCTEL 

(773) 243-3000 

www.pctel.com 



Specs: ATX, microATX, E-ATX, and BTX (optional); 11 external and 3 internal bays; 
20.9 inches high x 8.7 inches wide x 22 inches deep; 16.5 pounds 



Armor VA8000SWA 

$189 

Thermaltake 

(800)988-1088 

www.thermaltake.com 

^ N^ ^ ^5 



semiprotective half-doors 
that curve around the 
fascia. If the object was 
to protect drives while 
preserving airflow, a full- 
width, convex, alumi- 
num grill door would 
have done a better job 
and still blended in. 
The Armor case re- 
mains an excellent choice when flexibility 
and cooling are critical for a fully stacked, 
storage-centric PC. A 

by William Van Winkle 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ >g^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 
30 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



Anand's Corner 



Cell: 



by Anand Lai Shimpi 



An Architecture Before Its Time 



(Part II) 

This month I've got a continuation focus- 
ing on one of the major design decisions 
behind Cell. When Cell was first announced, 
at 234 million transistors and a 221mm 2 die, it 
sounded massive. But at IDF in February, we 
got official specs for Intel's first desktop dual- 
core chips, which made Cell a lot more reason- 
able-sounding. Here's a quick comparison. 

The table here is particularly telling: Intel's 
dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition and the 





Intel Pentium 
Extreme Edition 




Cell 
Prototype 


Manufacturing Process 

Transistor Count 

Die Size 

# Of Independent Cores 

# Of Simultaneous Threads 


90nm 

230M 

206mm 2 

2 

4 




90nm SOI 

234M 

221mm 2 

9 

10 



Cell prototype are extremely similar in physical 
specifications but very different in the number 
of execution cores. The Cell prototype is capa- 
ble of executing 10 concurrent threads, while 
the new Intel chip can handle a maximum of 
four. This difference alone highlights a number 
of low-level design decisions that define Cell. 

Intel's first desktop dual-core microprocessors 
are basically two single core IA (Intel Architec- 
ture) chips put on a single piece of silicon. Each 
individual core was originally designed to offer 
the best possible performance in nonmulti- 
threaded environments, meaning that each core 
exhibited a great level of ILP (instruction level 
parallelism) instead of TLP (thread level paral- 
lelism). Cell was designed from the ground up to 
be a TLP heavy chip, and in doing so the archi- 
tects assembled a bunch of much simpler cores 
that weren't as strong individually, but with the 
hopes that as an aggregate the cores would be 
able to offer much higher overall performance; 
in essence, the Cell architects sacrificed individ- 
ual core ILP for overall chip TLP. This trade-off 
is how Cell, in basically the same die area and 
transistor count, can have more than two times 
the TLP as Intel's new dual-core Pentium 
Extreme Edition. 

As a TLP centric design, Cell isn't going to 
achieve the type of performance Intel can on the 
vast majority of today's applications, but then 
again it doesn't need to because the first imple- 
mentation of Cell will be the PlayStation 3, 



which will only run games written specifically for 
the PlayStation 3 and not the vast majority of 
today's applications. If properly optimized for, 
Cell should offer game developers much more 
power for realistic physics models and sophisti- 
cated AI than any other game console (at this 
time, seemingly even Xbox 2), but the secret is in 
the disclaimer "if properly optimized for." 

There are two limitations to Cell's success in 
the console world, and I define success as being 
able to offer greater performance than 
a more conservative, conventional 
architecture, alaXbox2: 1) Massive 
publishing houses creating game en- 
gines optimized for the least common 
denominator, and 2) Added difficulty 
of developing and debugging a heavily 
multithreaded game. The first problem 
is that Cell is far from the norm for game 
developers and it is not going to be the least 
common denominator in terms of least parallel 
architecture to optimize for. With nine simpler 
cores, if Cell isn't used to (at least) close to its 
full potential, architectures with fewer, more 
complex cores will end up offering equal if not 
greater performance, at a lower development 
complexity. (It's generally easier to program for 
general purpose cores than it is more special- 
ized hardware.) The difficulty of programming 
for any multithreaded platform ends up being 
the second limitation to success for Cell, but 
it's even more so because of the more special- 
ized nature of Cell's SPEs. 

Honestly, I'm skeptical of Cell's ability to 
succeed outside of PlayStation 3, but one thing 
at the Spring Intel Developer Forum this year 
caught my attention. Intel spent a bit of time 
talking about Platform 2015, its vision for 
computers and, of course, Intel processors, in 
2015. The type of microprocessor architecture 
Intel was talking about at IDF was very similar 
to Cell: a handful of general purpose cores sur- 
rounded by many more simpler cores for TLP, 
even some more specialized hardware to accel- 
erate specific tasks. The difference is that Intel 
is talking about doing so in 2015, on a much 
larger scale than IBM/Sony/Toshiba are talking 
about today with Cell. Intel's Platform 2015 
vision lends support to Cell as a microarchitec- 
ture, but it may just be ahead of its time. A 




Anand Lai Shimpi has turned a 

fledgling personal page on 

GeoCities.com into one of the 

worlds most visited and 

trusted PC hardware sites. 

Anand started his site in 1997 

at just 14 years old and has 

since been featured in USA 

Today, CBS '48 Hours 

and Fortune. His site — 

www. anandtech. com — 

receives more than 55 million 

page views and is read by more 

than 2 million readers 

per month. 



...the new 

Intel chip 

can handle 

a maximum 

of four. 



Talk backtoAnand@cpumag.com. 



"he Shark Tank 



The Future 
According To Intel . . . 



by Alex "Shark/ Ross 



Intel has long been relying on Moore's Law 
to produce smaller, faster chips — up to 
now mostly by turning the frequency knob. 
It has been largely successful for many years 
by upping the MHz, but how much smaller 
can you go whilst adding more and more 
transistors? At this year's spring IDF, even 
Intel's CEO, Craig Barrett, admitted that it 
was no longer feasible to be able to only 
scale in this way. What Intel will be doing is 
moving to multicore CPUs (which should 
please us geeks) in the very near future, and, 
in fact, leveraging what it's learned from 
Hyper-Threading, which has yet to bear 
much real fruit in terms of performance. By 
2006 the company expects 75% of its 
processor production to be multicore for 
both the desktop and mobile space. 

The first desktop multicore CPU to hit will 
be the Smithfield, largely based on current 
Pentium 4 600 cores, followed in Q2 by the 
Yonah mobile. Smithfield will sport two 
processor cores each with a 1MB L2 cache on 
a single die and on a 90nm process. The more 
complex Presler takes a different approach 
from two execution cores on a single die, and 
instead, will merge a couple of Ceder Mill 
dies, each with 2MB of L2 cache. The contin- 
uation of the Extreme Edition brand with the 
upcoming 840 for Q2 of this year will be one 
hefty chip. The dual-core will be clocked at 
3.2GHz (each with 1MB of L2 cache) with an 
800MHz FSB and sport a 230-million transis- 
tor count all on a 206mm 2 die size. Throw 
into the mix Intel's soon-to-be-released 955X 
with its dual-graphics capabilities, and us 
gamers might be on to something. And just in 
case Intel's third-party bridge that allows for 
the use of dual xl6 PCI Express doesn't pan 
out, there are always NVIDIA's upcoming 
SLI nForce 4 solutions, which are also in the 
pipeline (perhaps as early as May). The 955X 
chipsets will support 8GB of dual DDR2-667 
memory, high-def audio, MatrixRAID, and all 
the previous Intel chipset trimmings. 



Intel has as many as 1 5 different multi- 
core CPUs in the pipeline ranging from 
desktop, workstation, and server level appli- 
cations, all of which will harbor support for 
Execute Disable Bit, Enhanced SpeedStep, 
and EM64T. Before the year's end, Intel 
also expects its 65nm process to be fully 
operational, and coupled with the compa- 
ny's existing manufacturing infrastructure, 
the future looks very bright. Demos featur- 
ing the 65nm dual-core Socket 775 Presler 
processor featuring two 2MB L2 caches went 
off without a glitch during the show, and it 
won't stop there. By 201 1 Intel predicts it 
will be manufacturing with the minuscule 
22nm process. 

All we need now is for developers to really 
jump on the multicore and 64-bit bandwag- 
ons. AMD has tried to rally support for 64- 
bit computing for quite some time, but now 
with Intel following suit and going the 64- 
bit way, we surely can't be that far away. 
Multithreaded games are, however, some 
ways off. So, start saying your good-byes 
to the Pentium 4 as we know it. It is on its 
way out. And speaking of AMD, it also 
made its traditional "guest appearance" 
across the road in another hotel, down the 
street from IDF. AMD's plans seem to 
include dual-core Opterons, which will be 
available by the middle of this year. Dual- 
core Athlon 64 desktop versions in the sec- 
ond half of the year will follow, as well as its 
San Diego 90nm SOI and Venice 90nm 
SOI cores. 

So it is onwards and forwards with 
Moore's Law, but with a twist of multicore 
that you and I will sample in the form of the 
Pentium D. Throw into the mix the contin- 
uation of its 64-bit support via the Extreme 
Edition processors, and perhaps Intel may 
well be on course for the performance crown 
that AMD has currently held for the past 18 
months with the Athlon 64. A 







Send an email to sharky@cpumag.com 



_ 



Disrupting Reuters ' newswire 
with a cheery Christmas greeting 
at age six, Alex "Sharky " Ross 
became an avid computer 
userlabuser, eventually 
founding popular hardware 
testing! review Web site 
SharkyExtreme.com. Exposing 
shoddy manufacturing practices 
and rubbish-spouting marketing 
weasels while championing inno- 
vative products, illuminating 
new technology, and pioneering 
real-world testing methods was 
just a front for playing with the 
best toys. The site acquired, he 
left in 2001. A London native 
and London School of Economics 
graduate, Alex currently over- 
clocks/tunes Porsche 996 Turbos 
with www.akkuratpgi.com when 
he's not tweaking PCs. 

Intel has long been 

relying on Moore's 

Law to produce 

smaller, faster 

chips — up to now 

mostly by turning 

the frequency 

knob. 



32 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



[H]ard Talk 

Get Wet 

Wfth PC Cooling 



One thing we talk a lot about is what it takes 
to go faster. Many of you big go-fast fans, 
however, are also now earplug fans or are going 
deaf. As transistors have gotten smaller and sili- 
con makers have packed more of them into a 
square millimeter, the energy those smaller 
surfaces unload has gotten exponentially larger. 
The one thing technology companies forget to 
explain when they're talking about their new, 
smaller transistors that use 20% less power is that 
they also increased the number of transistors by 
100%. I won't even get into surface area, but 
you do the math. What you find is that in new 
computers we have some of the hottest CPUs 
and hottest video processors that have ever been 
seen on the retail market. This has caused noise 
to be a major issue with today's computers, be 
they homebuilt or off-a-retail-shelf systems. 

One thing we enjoy doing most at Hard- 
OCP.com is testing high-end hardware. A 
couple years ago it became apparent to me 
while I was lying in bed that computing was 
just getting too loud. It wasn't a dream or a 
vision, but a whirring of fans I could hear clear 
on the other side of the house while lying in 
bed. Something needed to be done. 

Nearly every one of you has heard or seen 
some sort of computer watercooling discussed or 
shown off somewhere. Heck, even Apple sells its 
top-end model with factory-installed watercool- 
ing. Apple really helps me illustrate the point 
that not only is watercooling needed, it isn't 
something that just crazy enthusiasts are doing in 
their dungeon-like test labs. Watercooling your 
PC is poised to go mainstream in a big way. And 
while we can sit around and talk about how 
AMD, ATI, Intel, and NVIDIA are looking at 
ways to make cooler processors, the fact is that 
processors just keep getting hotter. Even if they 
do take a step back once in awhile, it's always 
followed with two steps forward. 

The point of this column isn't to teach you 
how to watercool your system, but rather to 
help you understand that it isn't the risky 
proposition it used to be. How do I know? I'm 
sitting here next to a Koolance watercooler that 



has been in my personal workstation for about 
two years. It has performed flawlessly and never 
been a problem. I was personally introduced to 
Koolance when I decided to quiet down the 
cooling on my test systems, and I have to say it 
does a great job there, as well. 

Watercooling used to be a Herculean task 
only for the bold. Today, it's much different. 
You can purchase watercooling "kits" that 
have most everything you need to embark on 
your H20-cooling adventure. The hoses, 
clamps, pump, reservoir, and temperature 
equipment are included. Although it isn't 
exactly plug-and-play, watercooling kits bring 
it all together for you and "make it easy." 
Most kits we have reviewed have had very 
detailed instructions that even mom could 
follow for a successful install. If you can install 
a new video card or change out a PSU, you 
can install a watercooling kit. 

Once you get into watercooling, you'll see 
that CPUs aren't the only thing that can be 
watercooled. You can watercool hard drives, 
northbridge chipsets, southbridge chipsets, 
and video processors, as well. In my system, I 
cool the CPU and video processor with water. 
Beyond that, you'll want to make sure you 
have one of the newer "quiet" power supplies 
to deliver quality voltage without much noise. 
If you address those three points, you'll find 
you can be a lot more productive in your 
office or home environment without the con- 
stant noise from your performance PC. Here 
are some resources for equipment: 

Watercooling Kits 

Danger Den; dangerden.com 
Koolance; koolance.com 
SwifTech; swiftnets.com 
Zalman; zalmanusa.com 

Quiet PSUs 

Enermax; enermax.com.tw 
Tagan; tagan.com 
Vantec; vantecusa.com 
Zalman; zalmanusa.com 




Kyle Bennett is editor-in-chief 

ofHardOCP. com 

one of the largest and 

most outspoken 

PC-enthusiast sites on the Web. 

HardOCP.com is geared 

toward users with a passion for 

PCs and those who want to get 

cutting-edge performance 

from their systems. Beware, 

though, Kyle is known for his 

strong opinions and stating 

them in a no-nonsense manner 

while delivering some of the 

most in-depth reviews and PC 

hardware news on the 'Net. 



Watercooling 

used to be a 

Herculean 

task only for 

the bold. 






You can talk with kyle at kyle@cpumag.com 



CPU / May 2005 33 



HARD HAT AREA - 






Tips & Tutorials 



Modding does the body good. A PC's body anyway, inside and out. Here you'll find 
hardware, firmware, tools, tips, and tutorials for modding your rig's performance and 
appearance. Send us your own mod-related tips and ideas at modding@cpumag.com . 



Modding enthusiasts have a 
penchant for the latest toys. 
Fast processors, powerful 
video cards, silent SFF enclosures, and rad- 
ically lit motherboards are all fair game 
when it comes to a modder's creative 
mind. Recognizing the appeal of uncon- 
ventional customization, an entire industry 
has emerged to support the community. 

Mods & Ends 



Corsair COOL Watercooling Kit 



Intel's latest 600-series processors may 
be the most feature-rich Pentium 4s to 
date. Moreover, they're fairly flexible; 
we've exceeded 4.2GHz with a 3.6GHz 
chip and reference heatsink. It shouldn't 
be too difficult for enterprising overclock- 
ers to take the $200 3GHz model to 
3.73GHz using a 1,066MHz FSB. 

To really push the architecture to its 
limit, trade that heatsink for a water block. 
Corsair's COOL system ($199) is one of 
only a few LGA775 kits available, and it's 
one of the least expensive, too. Included 
with the kit are a pump, water reservoir, 
120mm radiator, matching fan, copper 
water block, mounting hardware, anticor- 
rosion coolant, and a quick-start guide. 




Installation should take about an hour 
if you follow Corsair's multilanguage 
instructions. The job is relatively unobtru- 
sive thanks to exterior mounting options 
and a clean PCI pass-through for tubing. 



ZalmanTNN500AF 



Many companies have individually 
addressed the demand for silent computing 
with heat pipe technology, fanless PSUs, 
and insulated cases. Zalman, however, is 
the first with an entire chassis built to dissi- 
pate heat silently — from the processor to 
graphics card to power supply. 

Constructed entirely of aluminum, the 
TNN 500AF ($1,299) effectively uses heat 
pipes and convection to cool critical system 
components. The CPU heatsink, for exam- 
ple, is a passive copper block. Six 6mm heat 
pipes connect it to contact points on the 
case's thick, aluminum chassis. Zalman 
rates the apparatus for roughly 150W of 
heat transfer but recommends no more 
than 3.2GHz P4 and Athlon 64 3800+ 
processors. Further, another heatsink 
replaces whatever cooling implementation 
your graphics card uses, dissipating up to 
75W through heat pipes. A recent redesign 
added even more cooling capacity to the 
array, enabling support for ATI's X800 XT 
and NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 fam- 
ily cards. Finally, a fanless 40 OW 
PSU sits opposite an installed 
motherboard where it can most 
effectively rid itself of excess heat 
across the aluminum chassis. 

Exterior mounting makes for easy 
installation of the COOL kit. 



Engineering prowess aside, most power 
users will have a hard time overcoming the 
$1,299 price tag. Moreover, while the 
TNN 500AF silences components that 
fans traditionally cool, you'll still hear hard 
drive accesses and optical discs spinning. 
Survive the initial sticker shock and the 
TNN 500AF is an amazing piece of work. 



Koolance Exos-2 Water Cooler 



If you'd rather spend time overclocking 
than assembling a watercooling kit, check 
out Koolance's self-contained cooling sys- 
tem ($349), which includes dual radiators 
with matching 120mm auto-adjusting fans, 
tubing, LED lighting, and a pump. The 
system can dissipate up to 700W. 

Water blocks aren't included, so you'll 
need your own. Ample cooling capacity 
means you can also add a northbridge and 
graphics block. Power is drawn from your 
standard ATX supply and delivered to the 
Exos-2 through a serial port-like cable. 

Fashionably Fresh Firmware 



Creative Zen Portable Media Center 1 .03 



This firmware optimizes power usage 
for longer battery life, improves video play- 
back, increases USB connection speed sta- 
bility, and fixes several other issues. 

us.creative.com/support 



Plextor PX-712A/SA DVD+R/RW 1.06 



Update your 12X DVD burner with 
improved write strategies for CD/CD-RW 
media, plus enhance readability of discs on 
other DVD drives. 

www.plextor.com 



T-Mobile RIM BlackBerry 7100t 



Download a new OS for your T-Mobile 
BlackBerry which will fix interoperability 
with Audi's MMI interface and more. 

software.se.t-mobile.com 



Pioneer DVR-109 DVD+R/RW 1.17 



This firmware enhances write quality on 
DVD+RW media and write speeds on 
several different types of DVD media. 

www.pioneeraus.com.au 

by Chris Angelini 



34 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




HARD HAT AREA - P 





Overclocking & Performance 



Last month (page 39), we detailed 
the process of building a vapor 
phase-change cooled system using 
a VapoChill LightSpeed [AC] unit and a 
matching Lian-Li aluminum midtower 
case. We had to modify the case slightly to 
accommodate the unique requirements of 
the VapoChill LightSpeed [AC], and we 
also had to take some precautionary steps 
to protect our hardware from condensa- 
tion, which is one of the unfortunate side 
effects of subzero cooling. The actual 
assembly process was fairly straightforward 
once we cut a portion of the case away and 
prepped our motherboard's CPU socket 
with form-fitted insulating foam and non- 
electrically conductive thermal paste. 
Other than taking the few special steps 
necessary to work with the VapoChill 
LightSpeed [AC] unit, our custom build 
didn't stray too far from the norm. 

Once we installed all our major com- 
ponents, we took some time to neaten 




We tucked away unused power cables, routed data cables through 
drive cages, and used nylon wire ties to keep the system's internals 
clean and allow air to circulate unobstructed. 



our vapor phase-change cooled rig's inter- 
nals. We outlined the steps for doing this 
in December 2004's CPU (page 30), but 
we'll give you a quick refresher course. 
We wrapped up and tucked away the 
excess power supply cables in the small 
space above the PSU. We also neatly fold- 
ed and situated the data cables in their 
respective drive cages and routed the 
power cables we used along the edges of 
the motherboard and secured them in 
place with nylon wire ties. 

Taking these simple extra steps will sig- 
nificantly clean up the inside of a system 
and help air to flow through it with mini- 
mal impedance. With our final build com- 
plete, we powered up the system, updated 
the system BIOS, and proceeded to install 
Windows XP. We installed WinXP with 
the system running at default clock speeds 
to make sure everything was functioning 
properly and to give the system some time 
to burn in. With the kind of CPU cooling 
we have in place, we could 
have immediately begun to 
overclock our processor, but 
there was no need to over- 
clock the system and risk 
data corruption during an 
OS install. 



The Actual Overclock 

With the final assembly, 
Windows installation, and 
required drivers completed, 
we set out to find just how 
high we could overclock our 
vapor phase-change cooled 
rig. The MSI K8N Neo2 
Platinum Edition board that 



we used for this project includes a propri- 
etary program dubbed Core Center that 
gives you the ability to monitor from 
within Windows the hardware that's over- 
clocking the system. However, we decid- 
ed to do things the old fashioned way: 
through the system BIOS. 

Our first stop was the hardware monitor 
section of the BIOS to see just how cold 
our processor was running and to also 
check that our PSU was supplying adequate 
voltages. Unfortunately, we uncovered a 
problem here. The K8N Neo2 wasn't able 
to properly report subzero temperatures. 
The motherboard was reporting a constant 
temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 
degrees Celsius), which we knew from past 
experience with vapor phase-change cooling 
definitely wasn't correct. However, the 
VapoChill LightSpeed [AC] is equipped 
with its own set of thermal probes, so we 
used the LightSpeed's readout to approxi- 
mate our CPU's actual temperature. The 
VapoChill LightSpeed [AC] was reporting 
temperatures that hovered around -44 F 
(-42 C), which is cold enough for some 
serious overclocking. Additionally, our 
3.3V, 5V, and 12V rails were all rock solid 
and supplying power just above the rated 
voltage, so we were confident that our 
power supply was up to the task. 

Next, we configured the motherboard 
in such a way as to allow for maximum 
CPU overclocking. To do so, we first dis- 
abled any unused integrated peripherals. 
(When running a motherboard and 
processor out of spec, you increase the 
chance that an integrated peripheral will 
fail, so disable any unused ports or con- 
trollers.) Then we entered the Cell Menu 



CPU /May 2005 35 




M 



HARD HAT AREA - P 



Buyer Beware 

Unfortunately, all hardware isn't creat- 
ed equal. In fact even multiple sam- 
ples of the same product may behave 
differently depending on the components 
used. Some versions of the MSI K8N 
Neo2 Platinum motherboard we used for 
this project for example, have had prob- 
lems when used with Winchester core- 
based Athlon 64 processors when the 
processors were cooled to subzero tem- 
peratures. (Newcastle-based Athlon 64 
processors don't seem to have this prob- 
lem.) We aren't entirely certain of the 
root of the problem yet but it seems to 
stem from different revisions of the 
nForce 3 chipset used on the K8N Neo2 
Platinum. In many cases like this, a simple 
BIOS update may resolve some basic 
compatibility issues, but there's also a 
chance that some pieces of hardware 
won't work together. 

Before making any major hardware 
purchases, it pays to do a little research. 
The support forums on most manufactur- 
ers' Web sites are a great place to start. 
The user reviews listed on the product 
pages of many major online retailers 
(written by consumers who have actually 
purchased the products) are also an 
excellent source. Between those resources 
and a sampling of product reviews, you 
should be armed with the information 
necessary to make a smart buy. Doing 
research beforehand will help avoid 
potential problems and ensure your final 
assembly goes off without a hitch. ▲ 



Phoenix - AuardBIOS CUDS Setup Utility 
Cell Menu 



section of the K8N's BIOS to tweak a few 
more key options. The Cell Menu is what 
MSI calls the Frequency and Voltage 
Control section of the BIOS. ABIT calls 
this section Softmenu or uGuru Utility. 
GIGABYTE calls it the MIT (MB In- 
telligent Tweaker). Most other well- 
known motherboard manufacturers have 
their own custom names for this section 
of the BIOS as well, but they all perform 
basically the same purpose. It's in these 
sections that you can manually alter vari- 
ous voltages and clock speeds to overclock 
or underclock a system. 



Current CPU Clock Z539 fflz 
Current DDE Clock 234 MHz 



Item Help 



► BR AH Configuration 

High Performance Node 

Aggressive tilling 
x Spread Spectrum 

HT Frequency 

Coo IV Quiet 

Adjust CPU Ratio 

Adjust CPU FSB Frequency 

Adjust AGP Frequency 

Adjust CPU UID 

CPU Uoitage 

Memory Uoitage 

AGP Uoitage 



[Press Enter! 
[Manual] 
[Disabled] 
Enabled 
[3x1 

[Disabled] 
[Startup] 
[2811 
[66] 

[1.550U] 

[Over UID 5.9*/] 
[2.85 HI 
[1.65 Ul 



Menu Level ► 

DRAM timing and 
control 



U*«-:Hove Enter: Select v-/PU/PD:Ualue F16:Save ESC: Exit Fl: General Help 
F5: Previous Ua lues F6: Fail-Safe Defaults F7: Optimized Defaults 



All the K8N Neo2 Platinum's major overclocking options are available in 
the Cell Menu section of the motherboard's BIOS. 



HT Frequency 



1.5x 







U'.Move ENTER: Accept ESC: Abort 



Lowering the HyperTransport multiplier on Athlon 64 motherboards reduces 
the HT operating frequency, which usually allows for higher overclocks. 



In the Cell Menu, we entered the 
DRAM Configuration submenu first and 
configured our RAM for DDR333 opera- 
tion (166MHz) and manually set the tim- 
ings to 3-4-4-8. Because we planned to 
increase the motherboard's HyperTransport 
clock speed (roughly equivalent to the FSB 
clock speed of other platforms) to overclock 
the processor, our RAM would be over- 
clocked, as well. The pqi RAM we used in 
this build was rated for a maximum speed of 
DDR533 (266MHz) with 3-4-4-8 timings. 
To ensure that we didn't exceed this rating, 
we lowered the maximum RAM speed from 



200 to 166MHz, which effectively changed 
the HT-to-Memory Clock ratio from 1 : 1 to 
4:3. This would allow us to increase the 
motherboard's HyperTransport clock speed 
without overclocking the memory past 
266MHz (533MHz DDR). 

Our next stop was the HT Frequency 
submenu. The default HyperTransport 
link between a Socket 939 Athlon 64 
processor and the system chipset/memory is 
clocked at 1GHz (2GHz DDR). This clock 
speed is derived by using a multiplier of 5X 
and a stock 200MHz HyperTransport 
clock speed. Most motherboards aren't 



36 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




HARD HAT AREA - P 



Performance Improvements 



While we were overclocking our system, we ran some benchmarks to illustrate the actual performance 
benefits the CPU realized with overclocking. As the chart shows, our overclocked Athlon 64 3000+ was 
able to outperform a much more expensive Athlon 64 4000+ in all the benchmarks we ran. The performance 
over stock improved by roughly 30 to 45%, depending on the benchmark, and our overclocked CPU was a 
couple percentage points faster than the Athlon 64 4000+, as well. The synthetic benchmarks that are more 
dependent on processor performance showed the largest gains, but our custom Doom 3 benchmark also 
showed a marked increase in performance. 

Our vapor phase-change cooled system included an Athlon 64 3000+ at 1 .8GHz/2.53GHz CPU, MSI K8N 
Neo2 Platinum motherboard (nForce 3), 1GB of pqi TURBO series PC-4200 DDR RAM (512MB [2x]), 80GB 
7,200 RPM SATA Western Digital hard drive with 8MB cache, PNY GeForce 6800 GT (256MB), 3.5-inch Alps 
floppy drive, NEC 16X Double-layer DVD+RW drive, Thermaltake Silent PurePower 560W PSU, Windows 
XP Professional SP2, NVIDIA nForce drivers v6.39, and NVIDIA ForceWare drivers v71 .84. ▲ 



SiSoft SANDRA 2005 SiSoft SANDRA 2005 3DMark05 PCMark05 Doom 3 
(Dhrystone ALU) (Whetstone FPU/SSE2) (CPU Test) (CPU Test) (hhfra2.demo) 



Athlon 64 3000+ 8293 



2852/3689 



4031 



3429 



135.2fps 



Athlon 64 3000+ 
overclocked to 
2.5GHz+ 



12158 



4156/5462 



5036 



4917 



178.3fps 



Athlon 64 4000+ 11647 



4004/5183 



4986 



4731 



173.6fps 



clock speed of 2,530MHz (9 
x 281MHz). This was a 
respectable overclock of 
730MHz over our Athlon 
64 3000 + 's stock clock 
speed of 1,800MHz, but we 
probably could have gone 
higher. Our choice of moth- 
erboard turned out to be the 
limiting factor in our over- 
clocking efforts. 



completely stable with more than 2 GHz 
effective HT clock, though. To alleviate 
this potential caveat, enthusiast-friendly 
motherboards usually give users the ability 
to alter the HyperTransport multiplier. In 
our case, we lowered the HT multiplier 
from 5X to 3X, for an effective 600MHz 
(1.2GHz DDR) HyperTransport clock 
speed. Dropping the processor's effective 
HT link clock speed to 1 .2GHz may seem 
low at first, but keep in mind that as we 
raise the motherboard's actual HT clock 
from its default 200MHz, the speed of the 
processor's HT link is also increased. 

After lowering the HT multiplier, we 
locked the AGP clock speed at 66MHz to 
keep our GeForce 6800 GT running within 
specifications and raised the processor core, 
memory, and AGP voltages. We dialed the 
memory voltage up to 2.85V and the AGP 
voltage to 1.65V to make sure our system 
memory and video card were supplied with 
ample power. Then we increased the 
processor's voltage to an effective 1.63V To 
configure the processor voltage with the 
MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum, we first 
increased the CPU VID (voltage identifica- 
tion) to 1.55V and then set the voltage to 
5% above the VID. With air or watercool- 
ing, it's common to see overclockers crank 
their processor voltages up higher than this, 



but because our processor was cooled to 
subzero temperatures, excessive voltages 
weren't as necessary. 

With our preparations comple 
we then started to adjust 
the CPU FSB Fre- 
quency so that 
we could over- 
clock the CPU. 
We should note 
that the idea of 
a FSB no longer 
applies with the 
Athlon 64 proces- 
sors. The memory 
controller has been 
integrated into the 
CPU's die, so it runs I 
at the same speed as 
the processor. The 
CPU and the chipset 
interface via the chip's 
HyperTransport lin 
which as we mentioned earli- 
er, runs at a separate frequency up 
to 1,000MHz (2GHz DDR). Most mother- 
board manufactures still use the term FSB in 
their BIOS only to maintain continuity 
between the different processor platforms. 

In the end, we settled for a maximum 
speed of 281MHz for an effective CPU 




Assessing The Project 

In retrospect, we proba- 
bly should have gone with 
a slightly faster processor 
that had a higher default 
multiplier because we were 
ultimately held back by 
our choice of motherboard 
for this project. Getting 
100% stable HyperTran- 
sport clock speeds in excess 
of 280MHz with an nForce 3 chipset- 
based motherboard can be difficult, but 

Our completed vapor 
phase-change cooled 
system has a somewhat 
subdued appearance, but 
don't let its uncluttered 
look fool you, this is one 
powerful system. 

we won't complain too 
much. When you really 
think about it, complain- 
ing about a 700MHz+ Ath- 
lon 64 overclock is like 
complaining that you didn't 
win enough money in the 
lottery. Had we used an Ath- 
. 64 3500 + , we suspect we 
have hit a clock speed ap- 
proaching 2.8 or 2.9GHz with our 
vapor phase-change cooled rig. Of 
course, we would have liked to have 
taken our particular CPU even higher, 
but making a $150 Athlon 64 3000+ 
outperform a processor that costs more 
than four times as much is nothing to 
sneeze at. CPU 

by Marco Chiappetta 



CPU /May 2005 37 



HARD HAT AREA - PC Modder 



# 





Keep The Cooling In-House 




«&* 



I 



™ ^Pttfl 



-j=- " 







II 












1 


III 


II 


«> 




3y Sparky Schumacher 
courtesy of Greg Barry 




Watercooling offers decent overclocks and makes 
a tastefully lit rig really stand out, but it can't 
match a phase-change system for sheer cold- 
ness. Even so, power users rarely bother with phase-change 
systems (but if you're interested, see page 35); the large, 
clunky devices don't fit inside most towers. You can attach 
a Mach by placing it under your system and running a hose 
through the floor to your CPU, but the Franken-computer 
look won't grace too many magazine covers. Greg "Fueler" 
Barry mixed power and aesthetic modding to make his 
Fueler's Mod as cool as it is cold. 

Barry, a former accountant and mechanic, has worked 
in the automotive equipment industry as a manufacturer's 
rep for more than a decade. (As he puts it, "I can fix your 
car and do your taxes!") He relied on this background and 
his previous modding experience when selecting the metal 
for his chassis' subframe. After considering several weaker 
components, he chose steel square tubing, which easily 
hefted the heavy Prometia Mach I phase-change system. 
Barry designed the case so that the cooling system sits in 
its own compartment (similar to the old PC-on-Mach I 
setup) and separated it from the rest of the computer with 
an aluminum plate. 

With the cooling system tucked inside his computer, 
Barry focused on creating an accessible, but window-worthy, 
interior. He hid the PC's wires by mounting them to power 
distribution blocks that he placed in several locations. One 
of the "pods" sits by the optical drives. Another is attached 
to an acrylic backplate by the mobo. Barry finished off his 
masterpiece with a bit of function: The mobo tray, which 
also supports the PSU, slides out of the system on rails for 
quick fixes and the upgrades that his $1,500 Newegg.com 
gift certificate will provide. A 

by Joshua Gulick 




The Mach I includes a chassis that 
supports top-mounted towers, but 
Barry wasn't excited about the setup's 
look. "It also had a tendency to lean so 
I had to clamp it in place/' he says. 



38 May 2005 / www.com B^weruser.com 



# 



ilAliV r\f ■ EA PC Y\o6dar 



% 




Two layers of acrylic (clear and blue) make up the Fueler's Mod's skin. 
The white-blue-striped areas are fan filters. Note that the PSU is upside 
down so that it pulls air from outside the case. 




Zalman's video-card cooling system didn't meet Barry's standards. "First I 
sanded the GPU block flat and made new mounting hardware-an aluminum 
plate that fits over the block and is held in place by two screws that pass 
through the video card and into a Plexiglas backing plate." 



Give Us Your Mod 



Have a computer mod that will bring tears to our eyes? Email photos and 
a description to madreadermod@cpumag.com. If we include your system 
in our "Mad Reader Mod" section, well send you a $1,500 Newegg.com 
gift certificate and a one-year subscription to CPU. 







Thanks to several insulated studs at the top of the motherboard 
plate, Barry can easily disconnect the PSU from the mobo plate 
without disconnecting wires from any other device. 




The optical drive wiring pod means no messy wires, not that 
the processor needs much airflow. According to Barry, the Mach 
I (at the bottom of this photo) lets our Mad Reader run his 
1 .8GHz AMD 2500m stable at 2.8GHz. 




The window displays another wiring pod. Fueler cut a small path from 
the blue wire to the window, which means he can easily remove the wire 
by pulling out the rubber grommet and sliding it toward the window. 




CPU /May 2005 39 



vefwarTA 




Get informed answers to your advanced technical 

questions from CPU. Send your questions along with a 

phone and/or fax number, so we can call you if 

necessary, to q8a@cpumag.com. Please include all 

pertinent system information. 



u 



Basically, what 



your problem 



boils down to is 



your computer 



room's ambient 



temperature. 



» 



Each month we dig deep into the mailbag here at CPU in an effort to 
answer your most pressing technical questions. Want some advice on your 
next purchase or upgrade? Have a ghost in your machine? Are BSODs mak- 
ing your life miserable? CPU's "Advanced Q&A Corner" is here for you. 

Karl asked: I'm thinking about building myself a high-end workstation 
using Tyan's new S2895 dual Opteron PCI-Express/SLI motherboard. 
However, I live without air conditioning in the wicked 
Northeast. It occasionally gets hot but not all that 
often and not for all that many days. So, what I'm 
wondering is will aircooling be enough to keep 
such a beast from melting into an expensive 
puddle in the bottom of the computer case 
during the dog days of summer? Should I 
consider watercooling, or do I need to 
put it in a raised-floor climate-con- 
trolled computer center? Does 
anyone make an active water- A 
cooling system? I don't plan 
to do any overclocking, but 
I'd hate to have the sys- 
tem get damaged due 
to overheating. 




Tyan's Thunder 

K8WE (S2895) motherboard 

is based on the NVIDIA nForce 

Professional 2200 and 2050 chipsets and 

features support for dual AMD Opteron 200 series 

processors and dual PCI Express xl 6 slots with xl 6 mechanical 

and electrical connections to support NVIDIA's SLI graphics technology. 

Al Well Karl, you don't have to worry about your new system 
"melting into an expensive puddle" while using aircooling, unless 
your computer room's ambient temperature gets excessively high 
during the summer. What many people don't understand about air- 
cooling is that it won't be able to bring temperatures down to any 
level below ambient (give or take a few degrees, depending on the 
composition of the heatsink). If a fan is blowing 90-degree 
(Fahrenheit) air onto a heatsink, the heatsink won't get any cooler 
than 90 F. Makes sense, right? The same holds true with watercool- 
ing. The lowest temperature a waterblock will hit is the same tem- 
perature as the water flowing through it. And to answer your ques- 
tion, we currently aren't aware of any "active" watercooling systems. 
The problem is that actively lowering temperatures below ambient 



40 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



& 



can cause condensation. If the temperature of the water/fluid used 
in the cooling system is actively lowered, then you'll have to insulate 
all of the tubes, waterblocks, pumps, and other cooling system com- 
ponents to protect them against condensation. This probably makes 
it cost prohibitive to produce such a system, and offer some sort of 
warranty to the consumer. Although, there would be nothing to 
stop you from plunking your water reservoir into the refrigerator! 
We wouldn't recommend it though. 

Basically, what your problem boils down to is your computer 
room's ambient temperature. If it hovers around 70 to 80 F, you 
should be fine with a good aircooling or watercooling setup. 
However, if your computer room's ambient temperature gets 
much higher than that, you should consider investing in a basic 
window-mounted air conditioner. If that's not an option, you 
could keep an open cooler filled with ice by your intake fans on 
those really hot days, but that's Stone Age kind of stuff. 

Superpal3 asked: I'm trying to finish a new build based on a DFI 
NFII Ultra Infinity motherboard, but Windows isn't detecting my SATA 
hard drive. I might have it plugged in wrong, or there may be something 
I need to do in the BIOS. Some instructions would be appreciated 
because I can't download a manual from DFI's Web site, 
and the one that came with the board does- 
n't have any detailed setup instructions. 

Al Your problem is likely a simple one, 
SuperpaB. For Windows XP to detect and 
properly install on a SATA hard drive, the sys- 
tem's drive controller must offer native SATA 
support. Intel's newer chipsets and NVIDIA's 
nForce 3 and 4 chipsets offer native SATA support, 
but the nForce 2 chipset on your DFI NFII Ultra 
Infinity motherboard doesn't. To offer SATA func- 
tionality on that motherboard, DFI integrated a Silicon 
Image SiBl 14 PCI-to-SATA controller onto it. For 
WinXP to find a drive connected to the Sil31 14 controller 
during installation, a driver for the device has to be installed. 
You should have received these drivers on a floppy diskette with 
your motherboard, but if you can't find the floppy, you can 
download the drivers on either DFI's or Silicon Image's Web site. 
To install these drivers, you'll have to follow a simple procedure at 
the very beginning of the Windows installation. 

Boot to your Windows CD, and when the screen turns blue and 
the initial stages of the installation begins, you'll see a message at the 
bottom of the screen that says: Press F6 if you need to install a 
third-party SCSI or RAID driver. When you see this message, press 
F6 on your keyboard. It will seem as if nothing is happening after 
you press F6, but be patient. A few moments later, you'll be 
prompted to specify a new device. At this point, you'll have to insert 
the Sil31 14 floppy. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the 
drivers and then Windows should be able to see your hard drive, 
and you'll be able to complete the rest of the installation. 

Pecson asked: I've been having trouble with my broadband connec- 
tion and need some help. I have Verizon DSL service that works just fine 




when I connect the modem directly to my PC but I want to share my 
connection and can't because it doesn't seem to work right when I con- 
nect a router. I'm trying to use a Linksys WRT54G. I have the PPPoE 
option selected in the router (as per Verizon's tech support) and have 
entered the correct account information, but when I try to browse the 
Web, one or two sites come up and then my connection seems to just 
die. After those first couple of sites load, I can't get to any others. I've 
exchanged the Linksys router three times, tried new cables, and even 
tried a D-Link router and had the same exact problem. 

Al You'd think this is the kind of problem your ISP's technical 
support group would have on file, but sometimes the simplest 
problems are the ones that are the most often overlooked. We 
should be able to help, though; but first a little background. 
When you set up a broadband router, there are usually only a few 
simple options that you should have to configure so it functions 
correctly. You need to select the network type (DHCP, static IP, 
PPPoE, etc.), enter account login information, and with some 
ISPs, you'll have to clone the MAC address that's registered to 
your account. Lucky for you, we have some experience with this 
router and have previously worked with Verizon's DSL service. If 
Verizon's network is still configured the same way we remember, 
PPPoE is the correct Internet connection, and you won't have to 
clone your originally registered MAC address. You also mentioned 
that you've already entered the proper account information into 
the router, so it seems as if you've done everything right. Where 
your problem lies is in the router's default MTU value. With the 
past few firmware revisions, the Linksys WRT5G is now config- 
ured for a default MTU value of 1500. You'll need to change this 
to 1492 for it to function properly with Verizon's DSL service or 
any other DSL service that piggy-backs on Verizon's network. To 
make life easy, you could also update your router's firmware to 
v3.03.6 (released on Jan. 3, 2005) or later. With the v3.03.6 
firmware, it seems Linksys has set the default MTU value to 1492. 

Another thing we'd like to note is that there may be a time 
when you'll need to reset your broadband modem or router to 
restore connectivity. This happens often when you connect a new 
system to the network or when you try to use a connection that's 
been idle for an extended period of time. If everything works fine 
at one point and then your connection seems dead for no apparent 
reason, try this: Power down your system and disconnect power 
from your modem and router. Then, power up the modem and 
wait for its activity lights to stabilize. Last, power up the router and 
wait for its activity lights to stabilize and then turn on your system. 

Rich Curry asked: I have a GIGABYTE motherboard with two SATA 
ports onboard. My question is, if I desired to attach more SATA devices 
than the two ports allow, would I be able to install an expansion SATA 
controller card with four SATA ports available to give me the capability 
to connect six SATA devices? Or, would the controller card require me 
to disable the onboard RAID controller card to use the RAID from the 
controller card? I have attempted to research this configuration but 
have been unable to come up with any documentation, as of yet, with a 
scenario resembling what I wish to do. I know you can get a controller 
card, such as the LSI Logic MegaRAID SATA 150-6 kit, which will give 



CPU /May 2005 41 









M 




Broadband routers such as this Linksys WRT54G won't work with every ISP right out of 
the box, and occasionally, you'll need to change some settings. 



you six ports for six SATA devices. But I cannot find any mention as to 
whether you can run both onboard RAID devices with RAID devices on 
a controller card in unison. 

Al Legacy EIDE controllers limit you to two drives per EIDE 
channel. The EIDE architecture, much like many legacy com- 
puter I/O interfaces, is a parallel bus that devices must share 
system resources over. The four-drive limitation you are refer- 
ring to is not really accurate, however, and many motherboard 
designs with standard EIDE interfaces have multiple RAID- 
capable onboard EIDE controllers that have the ability to 
attach more than four hard disks — as long as only two reside 
on a single EIDE controller channel (or cable). 

The great thing about SATA connections, though, is that they 
are dedicated serial links to system resources for only one hard 
disk element. You can attach up to four SATA drives, each with 
its own dedicated port and data cable, on many current onboard 
SATA controller implementations. In addition, similar to legacy 
EIDE controllers, motherboard manufacturers are populating 
multiple SATA controllers on their boards with additional single 
drive and RAID capabilities. Taking that one step further, and to 
answer your root question, yes you can indeed run a separate PCI 
SATA controller card in your system with the onboard SATA 
controllers still active and available. 

Gabe Pacheco asked: Today's manufactures are selling Gigabit 
LAN technology on their motherboards as standard equipment. 



However, most equipment runs at 10/100 
speeds even if it's technically capable of 
10/1000 speeds. How do I take advantage of 
this technology? Do I need to buy a super- 
fast modem, router, and Gigabit switch? How 
do I set it up without having a Tl line into my 
house? Will I get those fast speeds? This is all 
because "Dad" wants to continue to play 
Counter Strike and get every advantage. 

My Computer: 

MSI K8N Neo2 939 

Using the onboard LAN 10/100/1000 

ASUS 5900 128MB AGP 8X 

Current LAN equipment: 

D-Link DCM 201 

Linksys 8-Port Router 10/100 

This is all hardwired to two other comput- 
ers that have 10/1000 capability for online 
gaming. 



Al It's certainly easy to get confused by all 
the bits and bytes, isn't it Gabe ol' buddy? 
Gigabit Ethernet LAN technology is defi- 
nitely the wave of the future and will even- 
tually replace all legacy 10/100 connec- 
tions in the next few years. Furthermore, 
1 Gigabit Ethernet is on the horizon, as well, although it will be 
targeted at WAN, enterprise, backplane, and storage applications 
rather than the desktop due to its high cost per port. Regardless, 
let's break down what is available to you today. 

First and foremost, virtually all broadband connections com- 
ing into the home these days are capped at around 3Mbps, with a 
rare few service providers offering a full 10Mb connection. So 
this will be your limiting connection going out to the Internet, 
but still, that's a lot of bandwidth for the average user. On the 
flip side, your current internal network is limited by the Linksys 
10/100 Ethernet router. Although you have Gigabit Ethernet 
connections all around, they have to "route" through the network 
to talk to each other, which slows them down to 100Mb speeds 
(which is the slowest connection in your internal network topolo- 
gy). You could speed up internal file transfers and general com- 
munications among your systems by replacing the 10/100 router 
with a new Gigabit Ethernet router. Your internal network would 
then be on a pure GbE connection, but it would still talk to the 
Internet at slower speeds. There are other benefits to newer 
Gigabit Ethernet technology, however, as GbE routers, switches, 
and Ethernet controllers have improved CPU utilization, latency, 
and loss characteristics in general vs. legacy 10/100 equipment. 
So, although you won't connect to the Web any faster, you may 
find that your overall Internet experience is a bit snappier. A 

by Dave Altavilla and Marco Chiappetta, 
the experts over at HotHardware.com 



42 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



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Check us out at www.pny.com/cpu 

Let our memory capture your memories.™ 





HARD HAT AREA - X-ray Vision 



Nanotubes 

New Technology May Star In T\ 



f you hate watching your friends and 
neighbors invest in the latest large- 



I screen plasma or LCD TV — and then 
brag about it incessantly — save your 
money for now. You might be able to 
trump them all in a couple of years. 

FEDs (field emission displays) featuring 
carbon nanotubes may very well become 
the next hot technology for large-screen 
TVs and computer displays. FEDs com- 
bine the best features found in CRTs and 
flat-screen LCDs and plasma displays. 
Although the nanotechnology behind 
FEDs is still under development, at least 



one large high-tech company — Samsung — 
hopes to have a commercial display product 
available sometime in a couple of years, 
possibly by the end of 2006. 

Nanotubes In FEDs 

At its most basic form, an FED works 
similarly to a CRT, with electron streams 
striking a phosphor layer, causing it to emit 
light. But, the FED uses millions of micro- 
scopic carbon nanotubes to generate light, 
which allows FEDs to be lightweight and 
thin. (See the "FED Technology Over- 
view" and the "FEDs vs. CRTs" sidebars.) 



Sumio Iijima, a research specialist at 
NEC, developed the carbon nanotube in 
1991. You can think of a carbon nanotube 
like a rolled-up sheet of carbon molecules 
that forms a cylinder with a diameter of 
only about 0.5 to lOnm and a length of 
about l,000nm. The carbon nanotubes are 
strong and have high electrical conductivi- 
ty, which lets them act like the electron gun 
that drives a CRT display. 

Working Through Pitfalls 

Many companies are working on the 
products and technologies required to 
make FEDs with carbon nanotubes a re- 
ality. Carbon Nanotechnologies (www 
.cnanotech.com) of Houston, for example, 
is creating carbon nanotubes in powder 
form. Samsung also is working with 
DuPont to develop a reliable material that 
can adhere the nanotubes to the substrate. 



FED Technology Overview 



An FED (field emission display), 
using carbon nanotubes, fires 
electrons at a phosphor layer, caus- 
ing it to light up like a CRT. However, 
the FED and nanotube technology 
allows this device to have far less 
thickness than a bulky CRT. 

As shown in the close-up of an indi- 
vidual subpixel in the upper-right por- 
tion of this diagram, the nanotube 
cathode sits inside the gate electrode. 
The gate electrode creates the electric 
field, allowing the nanotube to fire the 
electrons toward the phosphor layer. 
The electrons move in a vacuum 
through the subpixel to the phosphor 
layer. To create an overall display, mil- 
lions of these nanotube devices are 
clustered and act as a cathode, pro- 
ducing electrons via field emission. 

In the lower-right portion of this 
diagram, you can see how each pixel 
is created. Three subpixels (one each 
of red, green, and blue) work together 
to create any color for an individual 
pixel. As the phosphors emit visible 
light, viewers can see the light through 
the glass surface. ▲ 



electrode 
Phosphor vacuum / G | ass 




Nanotube Glass substrate 

In this diagram, you can see movement o 
the electrons in a subpixel using ano 
angle. The positively charged portion o^ u. t 
FED drives the electrons toward the nega- 
tively charged phosphor layer. The nun 
and strength of the electrons that strike 
phosphor layer determine the intensil 
the color that's generated. A 



Sources: Saint-Gobain, Carbon Nanotechnologies, IEEE, Samsung, MIT 



X-ray Vision - HARD HAT AREA 



Furthermore, additional companies such 
as Motorola and Sony also are looking at 
FED technology. 

With all the buzz surrounding carbon 
nanotubes, companies still have some prob- 
lems to take care of before FED technology 
can overcome CRT, LCD, or plasma dis- 
play technologies. For example, aligning 
the nanotubes properly has been difficult 



thus far. However, researchers at Samsung 
think because the nanotubes are so small, 
some misaligned tubes will not cause prob- 
lems given that the properly aligned nan- 
otubes will be able to make up for the 
errors with no loss of image quality. But 
perhaps the biggest problem for FEDs cur- 
rently is the high cost of manufactur- 
ing them. If FEDs are to be successful in 



FEDs vs. CRTs 

At the most basic level, an FED is upgraded CRT technology. Both 
technologies work in a similar manner, using charged electrons 
moving in a vacuum tube to light phosphors inside a glass surface. 

As you can see in this diagram, though, CRTs consist of one electron 
gun moving back and forth to strike the phosphors. A cathode creates 
the electron beams. A deflection yolk directs the electron beams to the 
correct position on the phosphor layer. FED technology gives each sub- 
pixel its own electron gun, which is a carbon nanotube. 

In an FED, each subpixel represents a different color. Three subpixels 
combine to create an individual pixel's color. In a CRT, three different 
electron beams strike the phosphor layer. 

Because of the distance required to give the electron gun enough 
room to strike the phosphor layer in the right place, CRT monitors and 
TVs are bulky. FED monitors and TVs don't require the large distances, 
allowing them to be thin, like a flat-panel LCD or a plasma TV. ▲ 



challenging LCDs and plasma displays in 
the marketplace for large-screen displays, 
they must have a similar price point soon 
after their introduction. In the end, FEDs 
still have some hurdles to overcome, but 
the possibilities are almost as bright as an 
FED screen promises to be. CPU 

by Kyle Schurman 



Cathode 
Electron guns 
Deflection yolk 

Electron beams 

Cathode ray 
tube (a vacuum) | 

Phosphor layer 
inside glass 




Sources: Saint-Gobain, Carbon Nanotechnologies, IEEE, Samsung, 



Rival Display Technologies 



Several technologies are jockeying for 
position as the replacement for CRTs. 
CRT 

Cathode ray tube TVs have been around. 
However, they are bulky, especially with 
large-sized screens. (A new type of CRT from 
Samsung, called a Vixlim tube, will make 
them less bulky, requiring about half the 
depth that traditional CRTs need.) Electron 
beams strike a phosphor layer on the inside 
of a glass screen to create the image. 



FED 

Field emission displays represent a new 
technology that work similarly to CRTs but are 
thinner because microscopic carbon nan- 
otubes generate the electron beams that strike 
a phosphor layer. 
LCD 

Liquid-crystal displays already are popu- 
lar. Polarized light shining through liquid 
crystal patterns creates the image. The liq- 
uid-crystal patterns control the intensity and 



the color of individual pixels. LCDs are 
extremely thin. 

Plasma 

Plasma displays are growing in populari- 
ty, but their use with computer displays cur- 
rently is limited by their high cost. Ionized 
gas within each pixel creates ultraviolet light 
when struck by an electrical pulse. The ultra- 
violet light then causes a phosphor to emit a 
visible light. Plasma displays are extremely 
thin, too. A 



1^ CRT. Inexpensive, mature technology, wide-angle viewability, 
^J no problems with showing motion, low power consumption 
Q J (about 10% of a plasma display) 

FED. Thin and lightweight, no problems with burn-in, 
wide-angle viewability, low power consumption because only 
"on" pixels draw power, no problems with showing motion 

LCD. Thin and lightweight, reliable technology, no problems 
with burn-in 

Plasma. Thin and lightweight compared to CRTs, wide- 
angle viewability, extremely bright images, no problems with 
showing motion 



1^ CRT. Bulky and heavy, especially with large screens 

FED. Still in development phase, probably expensive when 
^^ introduced, still some technological hurdles to overcome, may 
m j be too far behind other display technologies to overcome them 
LCD. Poor wide-angle viewability, large screens are ex- 
pensive, quality suffers in low temperatures, problems with 
showing motion because pixels switch too slowly, power con- 
sumption problems because of constant need for backlight 

Plasma. Large screens are expensive, extremely high power 
consumption, serious problems with burn-in from static images 



Sources: Saint-Gobain, Carbon Nanotechnologies, IEEE, Samsung, MIT 




w 



HAT AREA WHITE PAPER 




Asynchronous Logic 



When you think of a Pentium 4 
or Athlon 64 processor, one 
specification invariably springs 
to mind — frequency. The clock speed at 
which a chip runs helps define that device's 
performance. In other words, a 2GHz chip 
should be faster than a 1GHz processor that 
both center on the same architecture. In this 
example, both processors typically represent 
synchronous logic, designs bound by an 
oscillating clock. The system state changes 
on the edges of each "tick" is saved into a set 



Who Let The Clocks Out? 

of registers called flip-flops, manipulated by 
combinatorial logic, and passed along on the 
next clock signal. 

Given the rapid escalation of clock fre- 
quency, it's clear how much progress has 
been made in designing and augmenting 
synchronous logic. Verifying those circuits 
remains a manageable task because all states 
change at the same time, according to 
the clock frequency. Thus, the validation 
process involves checking combinatorial 
logic delays to make sure register setup and 



hold times are always met. And, many of 
the tools used to build synchronous circuits 
are automated now. 

Clear & Present Problems 

But there are a few trade-offs that run 
counter to the tools and extensive research 
supporting synchronous design. First, there 
is power. Shrinking manufacturing process- 
es typically reduce power for a given level 
of performance. However, because lower 
capacitances enable higher clock speeds, 



An Asynchronous Evolution 



Images courtesy of Fulcrum Microsystems 



Going from synchronous logic to asynchronous isn't a binary switch. There are actually several ways to design asynchronous circuits, and they 
all offer different characteristics that contribute to overall performance, power consumption, and complexity. 

Existing synchronous circuits are bound by clock pulses. The combinational 
logic units, as you can see, are separated by registers, which all switch accord- 
ing to the ticking of a global clock. The gates connected to that clock switch at 
the same time, consuming power even if the combinational logic units aren't 
performing useful work. Though purportedly easier to design, synchronous 
logic makes balancing power and performance difficult, especially in embedded 
applications sensitive to battery life and less tolerant to thermal output. 

The micro-pipeline approach, presented by Ivan Sutherland in 1987, 
employs one wire for each data bit and separate wiring to indicate timing. So 
long as bundling constraints are met, a design centering on micro-pipelines is 
considered delay-insensitive. You can turn the delay element in this case for 
each logic block. 

Another method is the dual-rail encoding approach, which uses two wires for 
each data bit. The circuit transmits logic validity with the data. Delay insensitivity 
is maintained, but more power is dissipated due to a forced "return to zero" 
phase. Incidentally, this is the platform on which VLSI programming is based. 

Domino logic, named for the use of a transistor precharging phase and subse- 
quent rapid discharge, like toppling dominos, offers a higher-performance 
avenue into asynchronous logic. It's delay-insensitive, precharges during the logic 
block handshake, and offers the same efficiency as other clockless circuits. ▲ 









Dual Rail 








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Logic 


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Dual-Rail 
Domino [ 
Logic f 




Dual-Rail 

Domino 

Logic 


Inpu 

Completio 

Detectio 










t L 


xl y 


-il y 


J-L 1 Output 
^M — Completion 
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1 fcontrol)- 


1 (Controj)- 















46 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



WHITE PAPER - HARD HAT AREA 



and those smaller nodes give chipmakers 
the opportunity to incorporate more func- 
tions, total power invariably increases. The 
Pentium 4 and Athlon 64 are perfect exam- 
ples, both dissipating in excess of 100W. 

The global clock and latches inside those 
processors are responsible for a significant 
portion of that power envelope, around 
30% to 40%, according to representatives 
of Fulcrum Microsystems. And because the 
clock is always ticking, sending a signal to 
all of the connected gates, idle subsystems 
consume energy even when they're not per- 
forming useful work. Clock gating, often 
seen in mobile circuits, helps combat that 
issue in synchronous logic, but it involves 
increased design complexity less common 
in application-specific integrated circuits. 

Issues crop up as synchronous designs 
are pushed to their limits. Electromagnetic 
interference is generated at the clock fre- 
quency and exacerbated by long clock lines, 
potentially interfering with other system 
devices. Distribution is another issue, as 
chips continue to grow and wires shrink. 
Because each part of a chip has to wait for 
a clock signal before performing its next 
operation, designers spend an increasing 
amount of resources managing timing to 
keep the circuit running efficiently. 

Consequentially, it's getting harder to 
develop faster synchronous circuits without 
bumping into power constraints, clock- 
skew issues, and heat problems. Perhaps 
Intel's current shift away from emphasizing 
clock frequency best illustrates how insuffi- 
cient today's tools are for pushing clocked 
circuits to faster frequencies. 

Pulling Clocks 

What if chips could operate without a 
clock binding the timing of state changes? 
The concept isn't new. You can already 
find asynchronous logic in various forms 
used today. Fulcrum, for example, sells 
what it calls the first switch-based solution 
for connecting multiple chips containing 
an SPI-4 interface. Fulcrum's asynchronous 
crossbar switch facilitates communication 
among devices in a full-duplex resource 
pool, instead of a more standard half- 
duplex daisy chain. Fulcrum says its cross- 
bar is more efficient thanks to the flexibility 
of asynchronous logic. 




The Power Advantage 

The image on the left is a clocked 80C51 
microcontroller, and the one on the right is 
Handshake Solutions' asynchronous HT-80C51 
controller. The red dots indicate power level 
and distribution as both chips execute the same 
program. Clearly, the asynchronous design is 
consuming less power, as only the necessary 
logic is active. ▲ 



But what purportedly makes asynchro- 
nous logic lither? Power consumption is 
currently a significant issue with advanced 
synchronous designs, partly due to the 
obligatory clock driver and connected gates 
which open and close with each cycle. 
Eliminating this clock conserves a lot of 
power. It is instead replaced by a sequenc- 
ing mechanism — some means of ordering 
events triggered by the availability of valid 
data. Interestingly, there are several ways of 
accomplishing this task. Dual-rail encoding 
is perhaps the most popular. It employs 
two wires for each data bit, which lets value 
and timing information communicate. An 
alternative is bundled data, where data trav- 
els down one wire and timing information 
goes down a second. 

Because asynchronous logic is clock 
gated by nature, it consumes about 40% 
less power than a synchronous circuit, 
according to Andrew Lines, CTO of Ful- 
crum. This is important because a fully uti- 
lized asynchronous design will consume 
comparable levels of power as a synchro- 
nous circuit. After all, the two implementa- 
tions use similar transistors. But even then, 
the independent switching of individual 
blocks reduces the noise issues currently 
plaguing clocked designs as they rapidly 
draw power across an entire chip with each 
clock cycle. And while it's idling, the asyn- 
chronous solution consumes minimal 
standby power. Many custom synchronous 
designs are also optimized 
for power, but such features 
require special attention 
even though they're native 
to asynchronous logic. 

High performance is 
another lauded characteris- 
tic of asynchronous design 



methodologies. Without a clock driver, 
asynchronous logic is self-throttling. Its 
request/acknowledgement handshake guar- 
antees proper operation despite signal 
delays. Therefore, asynchronous logic per- 
forms at the average delay imposed by logic 
paths (some might be slower and others 
faster). But, the performance of a synchro- 
nous implementation is determined by the 
slowest logic path among clock boundaries. 
It isn't possible to run the chip faster than 
the worst-case logic path under worst-case 
temperature and voltage conditions. 

Asynchronous logic also has the benefit 
of implementation flexibility. Fulcrum's 
Lines says that although a greater amount 
of asynchronous design translates into more 
performance and power savings, the current 
crop of asynchronous logic is able to inter- 
face with standard synchronous IP blocks. 

Asynchronous Caveats 

Nevertheless, there are reasons why asyn- 
chronous logic isn't more prevalent today. 
To begin, many of the perceived benefits 
don't often translate well into the real 
world. Intel Fellow Shekhar Borkar heads 
Intel's circuit lab and is actively involved in 
evaluating the merits of asynchronous tech- 
nology. His research shows that the power 
savings normally attributed to eliminating 
a clock driver is often overstated because 
asynchronous proponents neglect to con- 
sider the requirements of propagating 



Cycle time of clocked logic 

,A 



Logic Time 



LLJJ-' 



Cycle time of 
clockless logic 



Manufacturing margin 

Clock jitter, skew margin 

-Worst case - average case 
(logic execution time) 



Efficiency is a hallmark of clockless logic designs. 



CPU /May 2005 47 



WHITE PAPER - HARD HAT AREA 



GALS: A Marriage Of Technologies 



Fulcrum Microsystems' PivotPoint SPI-4 
switch employs both asynchronous 
and synchronous design techniques. Built 
of 32.5 million transistors on TSMC's 
130nm process, Fulcrum rates the chip at 
1GHz. However, the crossbar is dockless 
and includes 200KB of asynchronous 
SRAM. Product documentation claims that 
PivotPoint consumes power linearly based 
on the chip's activity, which is in line with 
what you'd expect from asynchronous 
logic. Those squares you see around the 
outer circumference are the synchronous 
SPI-4 interfaces that consist of transmit 
and receive cores. ▲ 




If 



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handshake signals. "These signals now 
become performance critical, have higher 
capacitive load, and have the same activity 
as the logic. So, the power saving that you 
get by eliminating the clock signal gets off- 
set by the power consumption in the hand- 
shake signals and the associated logic." So, 
there's still no definitive proof that a com- 
plex microprocessor would demonstrate 
improved power characteristics if it were 
developed using asynchronous techniques. 

Even if large chip manufacturers were 
able to guarantee power savings using asyn- 
chronous logic, designing and selling the 
processors would pose other issues. There's 
performance benefit associated with asyn- 
chronous logic paths. This behavior isn't 
deterministic, though, as it is with a syn- 
chronous circuit. Any environmental vari- 
ance may negatively impact performance. 
On the other hand, certain embedded ap- 
plications may better tolerate nondeter- 
ministic performance. Smart cards, wireless 
communications devices, and control-area 



networks are all more immediately relevant 
applications for asynchronous logic. 

Although clockless systems have been 
around since the 1950s, there's no denying 
the dominance of synchronous design tools 
today. Borkar points out that debugging 
asynchronous logic is complicated because 
it always runs at full speed. "In a synchro- 
nous design you can lower the clock fre- 
quency to see when and where it fails and 
then investigate what fails and how it can 
be fixed. In an asynchronous design there is 
no such clock, so you are debugging the 
logic at full speed. ..." Also, there are chal- 
lenges to how companies will market asyn- 
chronous chips. "Since the performance of 
the logic depends on environmental condi- 
tion and data patterns, binning of these 
logic chips will need a new testing method- 
ology and paradigm," says Borkar. 

Explore The Options 

So, what other designs are out there if 
asynchronous logic fails to establish traction 



amongst processor manufacturers and syn- 
chronous designs start running out of 
steam? Some folks believe that mesochro- 
nous design may eventually take over, 
bundling clock information with data on 
the same interconnect path. Think PCI 
Express vs. PCI, where one interface oper- 
ates serially, maintaining phase relationship 
and realigning data to clock at the destina- 
tion, while the other is burdened by in- 
creasingly difficult clock-distribution issues. 
Another viable solution is the GALS 
(Globally Asynchronous, Locally Synchro- 
nous) approach, whereby synchronous 
blocks communicate with each other asyn- 
chronously. This is the angle Fulcrum took 
with its PivotPoint interconnect switch, 
combining an asynchronous crossbar with 
clocked interfaces. GALS is a particularly 
attractive solution for scaling multiple 
processors together, as CMOS feature sizes 
shrink at the expense of additional latency. 
So, although GALS may not be the ideal 
answer for the next-generation Xeon or 
Opteron, it does appeal to SoC designers 
who see it as a way to solve interconnect 
issues for what would otherwise be a com- 
plicated bus-based design. 

In Retrospect 

After years of relative silence, asynchro- 
nous technology is just starting to attract 
more attention. Separate announcements 
from Fulcrum regarding its crossbar switch 
and Handshake Solutions' upcoming asyn- 
chronous ARM9 core both represent differ- 
ent implementations of the technology tar- 
geting divergent markets. Although larger 
semiconductor manufacturers apparently 
aren't seeing any reason to go asynchronous 
right now, lower power consumption and 
minimal EMI definitely add appeal in 
embedded applications. 

At least for the time being, however, 
asynchronous logic will have to play ball in 
a synchronous world. The Fulcrum and 
Handshake cores use synchronous inter- 
faces, enabling the benefits of asynchronous 
operation while nudging a long-researched 
technology further into commercial success. 
Only time will tell how far companies will 
push such innovative thinking. CPU 

by Chris Angelini 



48 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




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op quiz: Chocolate or peanut butter? 
Well . . . you need both. Sometimes 
you need both at once. That's where 
we stand on Windows and Linux. 
Sometimes you want Windows, other 
times Linux, and often, having both run- 
ning in your home at once makes good sense. 
To be clear, Linux proper is only a kernel, the 
program that allocates the machine's resources. In 
most any Linux OS, you have the Linux kernel, 
the glibc (GNU C library) collection, the X Win- 
dow System, perhaps a graphical desktop environ- 
ment such as GNOME or KDE, and scores 
or hundreds of other program elements, all of 
^^^ which are free or open source. Back when Linus 
Torvalds wrote the first Linux kernel in 1991, a work- 
able OS was quick to emerge because all of the other foun- 
dation stones, most of them created through the GNU 
Project ( www.gnu.org ), already existed. Programmers just 
had to stitch them together. 

The beauty of Linux is that you can build your own com- 
plete OS from scratch by learning the necessary coding and 
assembling whatever necessary program pieces you like. 
However, most of us don't have the spare years or inclination 
to sit around and cobble together an OS, so companies started 
stepping in to do the job for us. The collections of Linux soft- 
ware they compiled became known as distributions, or distros. 
Unfortunately, very little attention was given to the 
Linux desktop throughout the first decade of the OS. If 
you wanted to run Linux, you learned how to do it from 
the shell, or command line. Initial attempts at a friend- 
ly, GUI-based Linux typically forced the user back into 



IV >1M*^/^ >5NA/}Nl*>5Nsr 



the shell within minutes and thus 
bombed in the market. 

Yet the open-source community 
and commercial developers perse- 
vered, knowing they could nail both 
lower cost and superior ease of use 
vs. Microsoft. Time passed. Software 
improved. And today's Linux is a 
whole new ball game. 

Desktop Linux: What We Found 

Device compatibility is one of the 
most notorious desktop problems for 
Linux, but the OS is also supposed to be 
much more accommodating for older 
hardware. So rather than make things too 
easy, we grabbed an FIC MB02 note- 
book (1.7GHz Centrino) and built a 
little mini-ITX box using VIA's 1GHz 
Mil 10000 motherboard. 

On the notebook, we ran LiveCDs, 
meaning that the entire OS resides on 
and loads from a single disc. This is an 
annoyingly slow way to run an OS, due 
to optical drive spin-up, but it's also an 
excellent way to determine configura- 
tion compatibility, as well as run Linux 





I %f * wMi HuuhLUIBn 



IS 



l_ ,_, ra j'lfi) "H»» 



KNOPPIX 3.3 delivers a slew of useful tools 
and toys on one live CD, but don't be 
surprised if you quickly encounter a 
situation requiring a little Linux expertise. 



on the road without hauling around a 
PC. On the VIA box, we swapped in a 
new hard drive for each attempted OS. 
We found that the new breed of distros 
tend to be very accommodating when it 
comes to setting up a dual-boot configu- 
ration on an existing Windows volume, 
but each distro tends to be rather selfish 
in regard to being the only Linux imple- 
mentation on the system. 



We expected glitch after glitch — and 
got several — but we actually got 90% of 
an ideal Linux desktop experience right 
out of the box. Sure, Linspire would 
not generate audio on our Centrino, we 
couldn't get the Mandrakelinux or 
Debian discs to install on the VIA box 
(although MandrakeMove worked 
fine), the DVD burner in Xandros had 
a 2GB file limit and wouldn't burn our 
test ISO, and so on. 
But we had some brilliant moments. 
Probably chief among these was how the 
CrossOver application bundled with 
Xandros Deluxe, which allowed us to in- 
stall several Windows programs, most 
notably the Microsoft Office XP suite, 
and run them under Linux. The distros 
that did install set up effortlessly, booting 
off the CD and asking only a few ques- 
tions during the process. Network con- 
nectivity, both wired and wireless, worked 
perfectly with no configuration required, 
and our USB peripherals all detected 
without so much as a hiccup. 

Most distros endeavor to re-create 
much of the Windows experience. For 



Five Linux Distros Tor Windows Users 



There are scores of Linux distributions available, some of them 
for free and some for pay. Consider these five distros as a 
means to ease your way into the Linux scene. 

1. Linspire Five-0 ($49.95; www.linspire.com) 

When you don't care about learning Linux and just want 
to use it Linspire Five-0 and its attendant CNR Warehouse 
($5/month, $50/year) is easily the most Windows-like, 
family-friendly distro around. 

2. Xandros Desktop OS Version 3 - Deluxe Edition ($89.95; 
www.xandros.com) 

Xandros is nearly as simple as Linspire, but it has more guts 
behind the scenes. The addition of a content CD that largely mirrors 
the online application selection will be welcomed by those with slow 
connections, and the bundling of Crossover is huge for users not 
ready to give up their major Windows apps. 

3. Mandrakelinux 10.1 Discovery ($49.90; 
www.mandrakelinux.com) 

From GIMP 2 to Apache 2, Mandrake 10.1 delivers the best 
mix of easy setup and running with advanced apps for power 
users. The Discovery version is Mandrake's three-disc 
essentials bundle aimed at beginners. For Windows 



users ready to put Linux to work across a wide task set this is 
one of the best options. 

4. Novell SUSE Linux Professional (under $100; 
www.novell.com) 

Like Mandrake, this distro uses sleek GUIs and intelligent feature 
layout to make an accessible OS while packing in a ton of functional- 
ity behind the scenes. Novell stresses wireless (including Bluetooth) 
and mobility support, extensive multimedia and productivity apps, 
and a slew of Internet client and server software. Novell's manage- 
ment system, YaST, does a lot of automated package fetching and 
installation where other distros would require manual scripting. 
Version 9.3 was unreleased as of this writing, but it has all the hall- 
marks of a perfect distro for experienced Windows migrators. 

5. Knoppix 3.3 (free; www.knoppix.org) 

Based on Debian, Knoppix is a LiveCD with an installation option. 
The distro's hardware detection is excellent, and its use of KDE 3.1, 
OpenOffice, and Konqueror browsers make it accessible and useful. 
It also includes media playback support and basic games, as well 
as GIMP 1 .2 for image editing. This may be your best bet for a no- 
risk first look at Linux. ▲ 

by William Van Winkle 



CPU /May 2005 51 



Free, Open & Other "No-Cost" Software Licenses 



Just because you don't pay for something, doesn't mean it's 
free. Free, "libre," or open-source software (also known as 
FLOSS, F/OSS, or OSS) is software published with source code 
under a license that permits you to do anything you want with it, 
including copying, sharing, and sometimes even using it in com- 
mercial products. 

There are dozens of different FLOSS licenses with slightly dif- 
ferent restrictions and terms, but all are free in the sense that 
users are free to share, use, and modify the source code. You can 
install FLOSS on any computer, modify the code, copy and give it 
to your friends and co-workers, and even sell it, as long as you 
include source code. 

The FSF's (Free Software Foundation; www.fsf.org ) GNU GPL 
(General Public License) is viral, which means changes to the 
source must be published under the same terms as the original 
code, a condition sometimes seen as overly onerous. Although 
General Public Licensed software is considered "open" by 
some, such as the Open Source Initiative ( www.open 
source.org ), many open-source licenses are not con- 
sidered to be "free" by FSF. 



Software licenses that are not free limit how you may use the 
software and source code (if provided): Some restrict access to 
source, prohibit redistribution, or forbid modification of the code. 
For instance, Microsoft may offer freely downloadable binary soft- 
ware under licenses that prohibit copying or modifying source. 
Binary code licenses often restrict your right to analyze the pro- 
gram to figure out how it works. 

Microsoft's Shared Source licenses are far from free because 
they only allow users to view source code but still forbid them 
from sharing or modifying the source code. Even still, licensees 
may be subject to other licensing restrictions. For example, they 
may be prohibited from using the software to run benchmark 
tests with results that are published. 

Other no-cost licenses range from "almost-free" licenses under 
which educational institutions often publish software and source 
for use by individuals or educators, to the almost-proprietary 
licenses under which commercial software publishers offer 
beta or limited-release binary-only software. A 

by Pete Loshin 



example, to find out size and usage on 
your hard drive, you select the volume 
in the file manager application, right- 
click, and select Properties, just like in 
Windows. These distros mimic the Start 
button and Taskbar structures, and 
most offer a Control Panel-like area off 
the applications menu. Actually, we 
found that some distros had easier hard- 
ware and system control screens than 
WinXP. Obviously, there are differ- 
ences among the platforms, but 
between common sense and occa- 
sionally resorting to help files, we 
were rarely stumped for more than 
a minute or so on how to do some- 
thing in Linux. 

One area in which our Windows- 
friendly distros stomped Microsoft 
was on application integration. The 
norm among desktop distributions 
is now to bundle hundreds or thou- 
sands of open-source applications 
along with the basic OS. For Win- 
dows converts, this is the only way to 
fly because the distro's integrated appli- 
cation installer and manager reduces 
installation and uninstallation to a mat- 
ter of browsing through categorized 
application lists, placing check marks 
next to the program of choice, and 



pressing another button to execute. This 
manager also handles driver, OS, and 
application updates. Better yet, we never 
had to reboot following an installation. 

Some distros balance add-on applica- 
tions between the bundled discs and an 
online archive. Some, such as Novell, in- 
clude these downloads in the cost of the 
OS. Others, such as Mandrake, offer their 
online archives on a subscription basis. 




The KDE (K desktop environment) is at the 
heart of many GUI-driven desktop Linux 
distros. KDE is one of the best ways to 
borrow (and improve on) the look and feel 
of Windows, including file browsing and 
instant messaging. 



Linspire is notable in that all of its add-ons 
are online and subscription-based, although 
the first 1 5 days are free and anything you 
install during that time stays yours if you 
cancel. Moreover, whereas most application 
managers only give you the name and func- 
tion of the program, Linspire's CNR 
(Click-N-Run) Warehouse provides de- 
scriptions, screenshots, reviews, and user 
ratings. With just under 2,000 titles in its 
warehouse vs. 60,000 in Mandrakeclub, 

CNR may not be the broadest option, 

but it's definitely the easiest. 

Why You Should & Shouldn't 
Try Linux 

As with PCs in general, the rea- 
sons to have a Linux machine are as 
varied as the applications people run 
on them. However, if we had to pick 
five top reasons to adopt a Linux PC, 
they would be the following: 

1. Price and licensing. Although it 
might be more accurate to compare 
Linux distros against retail versions of 
Windows, we'll quote today's Newegg 
prices on WinXP SP2 Pro and Home at 
$147.95 and $92.95, respectively. In con- 
trast, Mandrake ranges from the single- 
disc Move LiveCD ($42.90; including 
128MB USB key for storing config 



52 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



and user data) to the eight-CD and 
one-DVD version 10.1 PowerPack+ 
($229.90; more apps and support for 
the money). Linspire Five-0, which 
includes a LiveCD, is $49.95. Novell 
SUSE Linux Professional 9.3 will be 
available at under $100 by the time 
you read this, and Xandros Desktop 3 
Deluxe is $89.95 ($69.95 street). The 
Knoppix LiveCD distro, like many 
other ISO distro downloads that lack 
friendly installer packages, is free. 

On average, commercial Linux distribu- 
tions cost about half of a WinXP OEM 
disc. But this ignores the legion of applica- 
tions that usually ship with distros or are 
available through their install managers. 
Yes, open-source titles such as OpenOffice 
are available for Windows, not to mention 
other free titles on sites such as SourceForge 
.net, but it is often much easier to find and 
install these apps with Linux. 

Perhaps most importantly, Microsoft 
specifies that one copy of Windows li- 
censes one PC. One copy of Linspire or 
Xandros licenses an entire household 
regardless of the number of PCs in it. If 
you plan on having several secondary PCs, 
Linux can save you a pile of dough. 

2. Security. In a 2004 report, Forrester 
Research showed that Microsoft fixed 
critical security risks much faster than 
Debian, Red Hat, Mandrake, or SUSE 
(pre-Novell). However, Microsoft had the 
highest percentage of high-severity vulner- 
abilities: 67% within the survey period. 

Many of these flaws pertain to ex- 
ploitable hacking opportunities, though. 
When it comes to things such as viruses 
and spyware, Linux is unquestionably 
more secure. Viruses do exist for Linux, 
but they are vastly outnumbered by 
Windows pathogens; and whereas the 
integration found in Microsoft's OS and 
applications can serve to foster security 
weaknesses, Linux as a rule is designed for 
security from the ground up. You don't 
hear about massive Linux server outbreaks 
because they don't exist. 

Given the security advantages of Lin- 
ux, we have a suggestion: Rather than 
hassle with a dual-boot configuration 
(Linux is about not rebooting, after all), 
build, buy, or revive a cheap PC box, load 
it with a distro, and link it to your main 
PC's peripherals with a simple KVM 
switch. Use the Linux box for all your 




When it comes to blending multitasking with a 
stunning graphical experience, distributions 
such as Mandrake leave Windows in the dust. 



online apps and keep the Windows 
machine stripped down to your power 
apps. You'll reboot and reformat less 
often, and even if the Linux box costs you 
$200, think of the annual anti-malware 
subscription costs you'll save. 

3. Live discs. Why not take your OS to 
any compatible PC anywhere? Live discs 



r 



Embedded 

Linux Resources 



Sveasoft 
www.sveasoft.com 

Commercial provider of subscription 

firmware downloads and support 

for wireless routers. 

LinuxDevices.com 
www.linuxdevices.com 

Embedded Linux news resource. 

Linux-Hacker 
www.linux-hacker.net 

Online community for Linux device 
modders and hackers. 

Hack A Day 
www.hackaday.com 

Awesome assemblage of hacks 
and mods. You get new 
mods/hacks every day. 



^ 



Up- 



Xbox-Linux Project 
www.xbox-linux.org 

Up-to-date information about 

running Linux on Microsoft's 

gamer PC. 






are often free and never touch the host's 
hard drive. You'll be able to carry live 
distros along with your desktop configu- 
ration, applications, and data on USB 
keys or other portable storage devices. 

4. No activation. Windows activa- 
tion is the bane of frequent upgraders. 
We dread swapping motherboards on 
our test systems just because of the 10 
minutes we'll lose calling to reactivate 
. . . over and over. With Linux, there 
is no activation. 

5. Free server software. Windows 
Server 2003 starts at $999. Many Linux 
server apps are free, although you may 
pay more for the distro in order to get the 
server software under the umbrella of a 
handy installer. How much your time is 
worth in learning and supporting open- 
source server software vs. Microsoft or its 
commercial rivals is another issue. Re- 
gardless, the idea of turning that old 
Pentium III in the garage into an FTP/ 
Web/email server that practically never 
needs rebooting is too hard to resist. 

The list rolls on with other Linux 
perks. Most distros offer multiple desk- 
tops accessible with a single click, like 
switching users, only every view is for the 
same user. The desktop sharing enabled 
through KDE in distros such as Xandros 
blows Windows' Remote Desktop off the 
map. The new Xen system allows multi- 
ple OSes to run simultaneously as virtual 
machines on top of Linux — for free. You 
can almost fill your hard drive and not 
have stability problems. 

But Linux is not an immediate shoo-in 
for all your needs. One of the trouble spots 
for Windows enthusiasts is gaming. 

"You still can play games under Linux at 
high resolutions with high frame rates and 
antialiasing and filtering all that good 
stuff," says ATI Linux Development Team 
manager Matthew Tippett, "but you're not 
going to have the same level of experience. 
You can see small deltas of just a couple 
percentage points to larger ones of like 
20%. Games are designed for the Windows 
environment, so you're not going to have a 
totally seamless port. Still, the Linux mar- 
ket is growing, and I see no reason why 
Linux gaming won't evolve accordingly." 

OpenGL games tend to port over 
pretty easily, but DirectX is more prob- 
lematic, although companies such as 
TransGaming are working to remedy this. 



v 



CPU /May 2005 53 



Linux Inside: 



Peek inside your favorite (or soon-to-be favorite) digital toy, 
and you just might find a Linux heart. Take for example, 
TiVo: It's so last year, but it runs Linux. Even if your toy doesn't 
run Linux, if it's got a CPU, odds are someone, somewhere fig- 
ured out how to make it run Linux. With Linux inside, you get 
excellent performance and opportunities for extending your 
device's usefulness. 

Real-Time Operating Systems 

No hardware manufacturer can make a useful product without 
some software, somewhere to tell the hardware what to do, and 
Linux is increasingly a big part of the software solution. 

Processors power almost everything electronic these days. A 
processor is a special-purpose computer with a limited set of func- 
tions usually determined by the hardware design running special- 
ized operating systems-called a RTOS (real-time operating system) 
or embedded OS-that make those functions possible. OS and 
application code usually run in ROM; RAM and hard disks cost 
more and perform worse. 

With millions of electronic devices sold every year, publishing 
embedded software becomes big business. For instance, once 
Microsoft started selling Windows CE for devices, many of the 
smaller vendors who previously owned the embedded OS mar- 
ket adapted Linux to run in embedded applications. Finicky 
embedded applications can require considerable tinkering and 
tweaking, making embedded Linux a big business. The Embed- 
ded Linux Consortium ( www.em bedded- 1 i n ux.org/ ) represents 
the industry for members such as IBM and Panasonic. Also, 
online industry pub LinuxDevices.com serves up the latest scoop 
on Linux-driven devices. 

Then again, even if your device isn't factory-loaded with 
Linux, you can often do it yourself. For instance, gaming con- 
soles make great Linux platforms. Gaming vendors sell premi- 
um hardware at a loss to build their loyal base of gamers who 




happily buy high-margin games. Sega Dreamcast was the first 
high-profile embedded system to run Linux (check out The 
LinuxDC Project at www.linuxdc.net ). Microsoft's Xbox, howev- 
er, is an even cooler-and higher-profile-piece of gaming hard- 
ware that also runs Linux, as chronicled in Andrew "bunnie" 
Huang's book, "Hacking the Xbox." 

Resources For Hacking Devices 

Longtime Linux expert Jim Buzbee documents use of open-source 
mods to firmware for Linksys' NSLU2 NAS device and the WRT54G 
wireless router on his Web site ( www.batbox.org) . Buzbee says, 
"people would be surprised at how many devices on the shelf at 
CompUSA or Best Buy are running Linux under the covers." 

The beauty of embedded Linux is that you can make the hard- 
ware do what you want it to and not just what the vendor says it 
should. For example, Buzbee says, "One person added a serial 
port to his WRT54G and then hung a modem off it [so] people 
could dial in and get access to his Internet connection." 

Buzbee explains that it's a balancing act for manufacturers who 
consider using Linux inside their devices because they don't want 
to increase return rates and deal with extra customer support. 
However, he says, "Linksys has walked the line well," releasing 
source and creating "hackable" devices that are "just hard enough 
to modify so that consumers will understand that they are likely 
voiding their warranty by making changes." 

Do-it-yourselfers who want to get started with a simple, yet 
powerful, Linux device can first check out one of Buzbee's Web 
sites to read more about modding their devices: www.batbox.org 
/wrt54g-linux.html or www.batbox.org/nslu2-linux.html (for the 
Linksys WRT54G wireless router and NSLU2 NAS). 

For more information on modding devices, specifically wireless 
routers, there is James Ewing's virtual software company, Sveasoft 
( www.sveasoft.com ), which offers a $20 firmware subscription 
for Linux-based Linksys WRT54G/GS and WAP54G, Belkin 
F5D7230-4, and Buffalotech WBR-G54 and WBR2-G54 wireless 
routers. Sveasoft code lets users increase a wireless router's 
power output by as much as 900%; a boon if you need (and 
are legally allowed) the extra power to cover larger areas with 
your signal. Ewing says, "For most folks this is a minor cost 
compared to the advantages of the Sveasoft firmware." 

Linux Powered 

Hardware manufacturers don't always shout out about Linux- 
powered products; they see it as asking for trouble from ama- 
teurs hacking mobile phones into digital video recorders (or vice 
versa). If you can't live with the possibility of turning your new 
toy into a doorstop, you'd better not mess about with it. 

MP3beamer 
www.mp3beamer.com 

Brought to you by Michael Robertson and the Linspire crowd, 
the MP3beamer is a music appliance that stores your tunes and 



54 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



Hardware That Runs Linux & How To Hack It 



plays them back from other PCs. It also loads these tunes onto 
your MP3 player or iPod, streams music to multiple PCs, or even 
lets you listen to your music on your home stereo with a media 
receiver. You can buy the MP3beamer (2.4Ghz Celeron and 80Gb 
drive) for $399, or just buy the Linspire-based MP3beamer soft- 
ware ($69.95) and roll your own appliance on a PC (minimum 
IGhz CPU, 256Mb RAM, and compatible sound card). 

Korg OASYS 

www.korg.com/gear/product_info.asp7A_PROD_NOsOASYS 

Rock stars take note: Korg's OASYS (Open Architecture 
Synthesis Studio) high-end audio production system is a serious 
musical instrument with advanced MIDI sequencing, 16-track 
audio HD recording, a flexible MIDI control surface, a CD burner, 
studio-quality effects processing, and more. Korg's proprietary 
production software runs under Linux and is available only from 
select dealers. Expect to pay $7,999 for a 76-note version and 
$8,499 for an 88-note version. 

Samsung Miniket 

samsung.com/common/microsite/IVIiniket/swf/IVIiniket_main.htm 

This tiny six-in-one gadget the size of a deck of playing cards that 
combines a camcorder, digital camera, MP3, voice recorder, data stor- 
age, and PC cam is powered by embedded Linux. It will be available at 
retail in the United States by the time you read this for $499.99. 

Sonos Digital Music System 

www.sonos.com 

You supply the SMB-shared hard drive, and the Sonos Digital 
Music System plays your tunes wherever you've plugged speakers 
into a ZonePlayer ($499). Use the handheld controller ($399) to 
mix and match music for every room any way you want. Get two 
ZonePlayers and a controller for $1,199. Sonos components run 
Linux, but the boxes are locked down, and Sonos doesn't plan to 
encourage firmware modders. 

Plextor ConvertX PVR 

www.plextor.com/english/products/TV402U.htm 

Plextor offers a full and free Linux SDK for its ConvertX 
PVR ($199) to encourage developers to embrace and ex- 
tend their hardware. ConvertX hooks up via USB 2.0 and 
records in DivX format, as well as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and 
MPEG-4 formats. 

Motorola E680 Mobile Handset 

www.motorola.com/motoinfo/product/details/0 rr 46 r 00.html 

The Motorola E680 mobile is more than just a cell phone 
for GSM networks; it also runs Java over Linux; supports 
Bluetooth and USB; has up to 1GB of user-expandable 
memory; GPRS; RealPlayer; and includes serious apps 
for messaging, email, music, photo/video, organizer, 
and synchronization ($649.99). 



Archos Pocket Media Assistant (PMA430) 
www.archos.com 

Barely larger than a PalmPilot, the Archos Pocket Media 
Assistant PMA430 is a video and audio player/recorder. It has Wi- 
Fi support, a personal information manager, and runs Trolltech's 
Qtopia (www.trolltech.com) PDA application platform from its 
30GB hard drive ($799.95). 

Linksys NSLU2 Network Storage Link For 
USB 2.0 Disk Drives 

www.linksys.com 

Solid-state and silent, the NSLU2 (street price around $99) runs 
Linux from ROM and can connect one or two USB devices to your 
Ethernet LAN. The NSLU2-Linux development group's (www.nslu2- 
linux.org) firmware lets you run network services and other applica- 
tions from connected hard drives. With one or two spare USB drives, 
the NSLU2 is a silent multimedia jukebox/server or SOHO email, 
Web, and backup server. 

Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router 

www.linksys.com 

Immensely popular, Linksys' WRT54G series wireless routers run 
embedded Linux and cost less than $60. Or you can download Jim 
Buzbee's BatBox wrt54g distro into the device's RAM disk for telnet 
access and basic Linux utilities; to go back to the factory firmware 
you just power cycle. If you're interested in more fascinating modifi- 
cations such as increasing wireless range, you can try firmware 
from virtual corporation Sveasoft for just $20 per year. ▲ 

by Pete Loshin 




CPU /May 2005 55 



Windows XP vs. Linux Users: Who's The Bigger Geek? 



Common wisdom says that Windows is for "dummies" and 
Linux is for programming brainiacs. Is this really the case? 
We asked four people who should know. 

"Definitely the Linux person. Linux has far more choices in 
technology configurations. You get hundreds if not thousands 
of packages and applications that are built by geeks. Nearly all 
of the new open-source applications are aimed at Linux. Every 
Linux distro runs an X server, and you can connect to it remote- 
ly. It's just a much richer environment for people who want to 
explore and take advantage of their applications." 

- Charlie Ungashick, director of product management 
and marketing for Novell 

"Linux users for sure are bigger geeks. Just using Linux practi- 
cally makes you a geek. It's more complex, you know. It takes 
more effort to keep a Linux system running. Yeah, Linux is more 
stable, but you have to be more of a geek to figure out how to 
do it. Especially networking with Samba is a pain in the butt." 

- Mark Rein, vice president Epic Games 



"Up until recently Linux users were the bigger geeks, and if 
you weren't, heaven help you in figuring out how to use it. But, I 
mean, I've seen people do manual Linux installs, and I don't 
want to learn to do that any more than I want to change the oil 
in my car. That's where Linspire gets a black eye because the 
Linux world is all geeks. We are the AOL of Linux." 

- Kevin Carmony, president and COO, Linspire 

"Windows enthusiasts focus on hardware. They target the 
fastest hardware they can, then tweak and mod it to squeeze out 
the last possible bit of performance. The operating systems and 
applications are fairly static. Under Linux the enthusiast has a few 
more options at hand. Because the development process is open, 
not only can they play with the hardware, but there's a whole set 
of extra applications they can tweak. The kernel gets updated 
about every two months. X Windows gets updated on a six-month 
calendar. Distributions get released on a 12-month calendar. If 
you like playing with technology, under Linux you've got some- 
thing new to play with almost every day." 

- Matthew Tippett, manager, Linux Development Team,ATI 

by William Van Winkle 



Also check out icculus.org for extensive 
Linux gaming resources. 

DRM-protected content looks to be 
another Linux pothole today. Napster and 
other Microsoft-based services don't sup- 
port Linux, and iTunes is only supported 
through CodeWeavers' CrossOver. 

Not least of all, hardware compatibility 
remains an occasional issue. Odds are now 
decent that if you lack compatibility with 
a part out of the box, there are online 
resources to help remedy it. For example, 
we might remedy our Linspire/Centrino 
audio problem by ploughing through the 
ALSA site (Advanced Linux Sound Archi- 
tecture; www.alsa~project.org) and learning 
how to implement the necessary shell com- 
mands. Laptop users will want to book- 
mark Linux on Laptops ( www.linux-lap 
top.net) . Just know that if you have com- 
patibility issues up front, the journey to frx 
them may be long. 

Pick A Distro 

Despite their common look and feel, the 
distros we examined vary on several points, 
and it's important that you examine your 
needs before proceeding. Obviously, cost 



may be an issue. If you're totally strapped, 
free distributions such as Knoppix or Deb- 
ian are popular and well-documented, but 
you will face a higher learning curve. 

Think about how many application 
options you need. Do you really want five 
word processors and 14 different Web 
browsers? Perhaps starting with less is more, 
and if it costs more to access an extra 
10,000 programs you may never use, see if 
you can upgrade to access that extra con- 
tent down the road. 

As we've mentioned, you need to weigh 
how important the distro's installation 
manager is to you. We love the simplicity 
in Linspire's CNR, particularly how it 
keeps all aspects of the configuration updat- 
ed, but there are gaping holes in the CNR 
Warehouse, one of which is server software. 
Novell and Mandrake, for example, may be 
a bit less warm and fuzzy, but their applica- 
tion selection is deeper for power users. 

Especially because you're supposedly 
new to Linux, don't underestimate the 
importance of good vendor support. This is 
one instance where money talks. Well- 
funded companies can afford plain-speak- 
ing tech staff that sit in the support forums 



and field phone calls. With the free or small 
distros, you're at the mercy of the open- 
source community for help, and although 
they are an eager, kindly lot, they may have 
little patience for newbies. 

Take The Plunge 

Whether you want a bulletproof edu- 
tainment system for the kids or a low-cost, 
ultra-stable server machine, Linux is the 
answer. The days of inscrutable installa- 
tions and befuddling interfaces are gone. 
Compatibility is good and getting better, 
open-source applications rival commercial 
Windows apps costing hundreds of dol- 
lars, and you now have a solution for the 
security madness surrounding Microsoft. 

If you're curious about Linux, wait no 
longer. Today's commercial distros will 
have you up and running in minutes, and 
even the free options can provide you with 
the opportunity to explore and learn a 
whole new territory in desktop computing. 
Linux is as fun as it is flexible. It's time to 
step off from a Windows-only world and 
broaden your horizons. CPU 

by William Van Winkle 



56 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 









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e all have our limits. If Windows 
has pushed you beyond yours, you 
might be ready to give Linux a try. 
If you're ready to check out the 
grass on the other side of the open- 
source fence, you may be wonder- 
ing where to begin. We'll not only 
help you get Linux installed, but 
we'll also offer tips on the follow- 
ing pages to make it easier to use. 

Choose Wisely 

Deciding on a Linux distribu- 
tion is no easy feat. Part of the joy of 
open source is that there is a distribu- 
tion for everyone. Of course, sorting 
through all the possible choices isn't easy. (See 
page 51 for an overview of some of our favorite distributions.) You 
have to start somewhere, and Xandros Desktop Version 3.0 Deluxe 
Edition ( www.xandros.com ) is an excellent launching point for 
most new Linux users. Debian is one of our favorite distributions, 
but the installer is brutal, especially for new users. Xandros is based 
on Debian, but it includes a much easier installer and a number of 
nice graphical configuration tools. Xandros also includes the 
Xandros Networks, which lets you install new applications and 
apply updates with just a few clicks. 

Xandros 3.0 Deluxe Edition will set you back $89.95. (Linux 
is free, as in freedom, not necessarily free as in beer.) If you're 
serious about learning Linux, however, it's worth the price. The 
Deluxe Edition includes a nine-page getting started guide and 
the 350-page user guide that make great references. The Deluxe 
Edition also includes a free version of CodeWeavers' CrossOver 
Office, which lets you run certain Windows applications, includ- 
ing Microsoft Office, in Linux. Additionally, the Deluxe Edition 
includes plenty of commercial software, such as 3D video card 



drivers and browser plug-ins, that isn't usually found in freely 
downloadable distributions. The Deluxe Edition installs all this 
software automatically when you install the OS, eliminating the 
need to install and configure additional software separately. 

If you think $90 is a little steep (after all, you can buy a 
Windows XP Home upgrade for the same price), there are other 
Xandros options available. A Standard Edition is available for 
$49.95, and an Open Circulation Edition is available as a free 
download ( www.xandros.com/products/home/desktopoc/dsk oc 
intro.html) . If you lack a broadband connection and can't down- 
load the Open Circulation Edition, CheapBytes.com sells it for 
$4.99. Of course, these versions won't include all the features 
you'll find in the Deluxe Edition. (See www.xan dros.com/products 
/desktop matrix.html for a comparison matrix.) 

The Preinstall 

For the purposes of this article, we'll assume you want to 
run Linux alongside Windows. Windows and Linux can share 
the same system just fine, provided they don't share the same 
hard drive partition. The Xandros installer lets you resize parti- 
tions in order to make room for Linux, but you should still 
have a plan before you begin the installation. You'll need a 
minimum of 1GB of free space, but we recommend 2.5 to 
5 GB of space to make sure you have plenty of room to install 
new applications. Find an expendable partition you can erase 
or a partition with enough free space that you can easily resize 
it to make room for Xandros. 

Most hardware should work right of the box with Xandros, 
but it's always a good idea to consult the hardware compatibility 
list ( support.xandros.com/hclv3) . Of particular concern are any 
modems and Wi-Fi cards. Although hardware compatibility is a 
bigger concern in Linux than Windows, there is one hardware 
category where Linux outshines WinXP. If you've ever tried to 
install WinXP on a SATA hard drive, you know that you some- 
times need to install a third-party SATA driver before you can 



58 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




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install it. Xandros uses a 2.6 
series Linux kernel that includes 
native SATA support. (Take 
that, Bill.) 

Device Names 

If you're going to work with 
multiple hard drives and parti- 
tions, it's a good idea to know 
how Linux refers to "block 
devices" such as hard drives and 
CD-ROM drives. IDE drives, 
including hard drives and opti- 
cal drives, begin with the device 
name hd. The master drive on 
the primary IDE channel is 
referred to as hda, while the slave drive on 
the same channel is hdb. The master drive 
on the secondary IDE channel, naturally, 
is hdc, while the slave drive is hdd. 

SATA hard drives usually begin with sd. 
The first SATA drive is sda, the second is 
sdb, and so on. Depending on your system's 
configuration, however, your SATA hard 
drive may begin with hd. Our test system, 
for instance, referred to our SATA hard 
drive as hde. The device name will be obvi- 
ous once you get into the installer. More 
important is how partitions are labeled. To 
specify a partition on a hard drive, you add 
a partition number to the end of the device 
name. Primary partitions are numbered 1 to 
4, while logical partitions are numbered 5 
and higher. Thus hdal or sdal refers to the 
first primary partition on the first hard 
drive. This is normally where 
Windows resides. 

Installation Issues 

The Xandros installer is 
very user friendly. The user 
guide provides an excellent 
overview of the installation 
process, so we won't focus a 
lot on the actual process here. 
Instead we'll point out a few 
key options associated with 
the installation. 

We recommend going with a 
Custom Install rather than an 
Express Install because it pro- 
vides more control over the in- 
stallation process. If you select 
Custom Install, the Disk Config- 
uration screen will eventually greet you. 
This screen lets you decide where and how 
to install Linux. If you have unallocated 




•<*> 



The First Run Wizard lets you personalize 
your desktop and configure additional 
hardware such as printers. 




free space on your hard drive, you can 
select Use Free Space. Otherwise, you can 
select Take Over Disk Or Partition if you 
simply want to overwrite data on an exist- 
ing partition. The Resize Windows 
Partitions option lets you resize FAT, 
FAT32, and NTFS partitions to make 
room for Xandros. In most cases, the 
Replace Xandros OS option will be grayed 
out, but if you need to reinstall or update 
the OS, this is a quick and easy way to do 
it. The last option is Manage Disks & 
Partitions, which lets you delete existing 
partitions and create new ones. We'll point 



Allow Services 



Select the incoming services which you want to allow access to. by 
clicking the checkboxes. 



out that although Xandros 
assured us that the Deluxe 
Edition was capable of resizing 
NTFS partitions, our installer 
seemed limited to resizing FAT 
and FAT32 partitions only. 

Xandros will require at least 
two partitions: the root parti- 
tion for the OS and a swap par- 
tition for offloading data from 
RAM when needed. You may 
also want to consider making 
an additional Linux partition 
and an additional FAT32 parti- 
tion. Creating a Linux partition 
for user directories lets you pre- 
serve personal data if you upgrade your 
OS or even if you decide to install another 
distribution. You'll need to select Manage 
Disks & Partitions in the Disk Config- 
uration Screen to create custom partitions. 
If you create a separate partition for user 
directories, you'll need to select the parti- 
tion, click the Assign button, and select 
/home from the drop-down list. This 
makes the partition accessible through the 
/home directory in your Linux file system. 
(Unlike Windows, Linux doesn't rely on 
drive letters, but Xandros does use drive- 
letter-like references to Windows partitions 
to reduce confusion for new users.) 

Linux doesn't support writing to NTFS 

partitions, so if you're running Windows 

on an NTFS partition, you may want 

to create a FAT32 partition for sharing 

files between Windows and 

Linux. Files stored on FAT32 

partitions are fully accessible in 

either OS. 

In the Administration Con- 
figuration screen, you'll need to 



Services 



- 



□ netblos (Windows Networking) 

□ imap (Internet Message Access Protocol) 

□ Idap (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) 

□ smtp (Simple Mai! Transfer Protocol) 

□ rsync (Remote Synch) 
E3] vnc (Virtual Network Computing) 
Q clns (Domain Name System) 

□ tftp (Trivial FTP) 
nfs (Network File System) 

□ ntp (Network Time Protocol) 
Instant Messaging (MSN, ICQ, Jabber, Skype, etc.) 
Peer to Peer file -sharing server (BitTorrent. Kazaa) 
Network Gaming Server (Battle.net, Unreal Tournament) 

□ Event Logging 



: 



The Xandros Firewall Wizard lets you create 
simple rules to help protect your system, 
but it lacks fine-tuning controls. 



provide a password for the sys- 
tem's Administrator account. 
This account, commonly called 
"root" in Linux parlance, gives 
you complete control over the 
system. If you're sharing the 
system, a secure Administrator 
password is essential to main- 
taining control of the system. 
You will need to enter this 
password before modifying 
important system files, chang- 
ing system-wide options, or 

installing new software. 

A generic user account is the opposite of 

the Administrator account. The User 



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Account Configuration screen 
lets you create multiple user 
accounts for yourself and any- 
one else who may use the sys- 
tem. Some rookies make the 
mistake of not creating a user 
account and simply log in as 
Administrator each time they 
boot. This is an exceedingly bad 
idea, especially for inexperienced 
users who may be more likely to 
accidentally delete important 
system files. Practice safe com- 
puting by never logging directly 
into the Administrator account. ' ,^ nru 
Instead, log in to a user account 
and let the system prompt you for the 
Administrator password when needed. 

Troubleshooting 

The install process should go relatively 
smoothly. We did run into a problem on 
our system, however, regarding the FAT- 
32 partition we created. The partition 
wasn't accessible from Windows, which 
kind of defeated the whole purpose of cre- 
ating the partition in the first place. If 
Windows doesn't see the FAT32 parti- 
tion, it's probably because Xandros 
marked the partition as hidden. 

To make your FAT32 partition accessi- 
ble in Windows, you'll need to boot into 
Xandros. Select System from the Ap- 
plications menu in the Launch Menu, 
highlight Administrator Tools, and click 
Xandros File Manage (Administrator). 
Provide the Administrator password when 
prompted. In the Address field, type 
/etc and press ENTER. Right-click the 
lilo.conf file. This file provides configura- 
tion information for the boot loader Lilo. 
Select Open With and click Text Editor. 
Find the line near the top of the file that 
reads fix-table. This command can cause 
Lilo to hide your FAT32 partition, so you 
need to tell Lilo to ignore this command 
by placing a hash mark (#) in front of it. 
Click the Disk icon to save your changes, 
close the file, and close the file manager. 

Next, click Console (Administrator) in 
the Administrator Tools section of the 
Launch Menu and provide the Admin- 
istrator password when prompted. This 
console is similar to a DOS box in Win- 
dows and gives you access to the dreaded 
Linux command line. (Cue "Jaws" theme 
music here.) Start by typing lilo to apply 



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Xandros Networks is a slick front-end for 
Debian's popular Apt. Using a special Apt 
server that provides Xandros packages, you 
can update your installation or install new 
applications quickly and easily. 



the changes you made to lilo.conf. Next, 
type fidsk -1 to view all your partitions. 
Find the line that refers to your FAT32 
partition and note the comments in the 
last column. On our test system, this col- 
umn read Hidden W95 FAT32 (LBA). 
Type fdisk l&evlhde (replace hde with the 
device name of your hard drive), type T, 
and enter the number of your FAT32 par- 
tition. (If the partition name is hde2, type 
2.) Type L to see a list of partition types. 
Find the type that matches the label you 
noted after running fdisk -1. Make sure the 
label doesn't begin with the word Hidden, 
however. Enter the character or characters 
that precede the proper partition type. For 
example, on our test system the label W95 
FAT32 (LBA) was proceeded by a C, so 
we typed C. Type P to view your parti- 
tions again and verify that your FAT32 
partition is no longer hidden. Type W to 
write your changes to disk and exit fdisk. 
When you reboot into Windows, your 
FAT32 partition should be visible. 

Hardware Incompatibility 

Linux supports most hardware well, but 
some modems and Wi-Fi cards are particu- 
larly troublesome. In some cases a little bit 
of research may lead to a solution. Google 
offers a Linux-specific search engine 
(www.google.com/linux) that's a good place 
to start when trying to resolve hardware 



compatibility issues. Google 
Groups ( groups.google.com ) is 
another excellent resource. 

Winmodems are almost al- 
ways a problem. If you have a 
modem based on Conexant's 
HSF, HCF, and Riptide chip- 
sets, take a closer look at the 
commercial drivers available 
from Linuxant ( www.linuxant 
.com /drivers) . The official driver 
costs $14.95, but you can down- 
load a free version that limits 
download speeds to 1 4.4Kbps. 
Linuxant also sells commercial 
Wi-Fi drivers ($19.95). 



First Boot 

After you log in the first time, Xandros 
opens a First Run Wizard, which lets you 
configure a few options, including your 
network connection and any printers. If 
you connect to the Internet through a 
router, you shouldn't need any further 
network configuration. If you connect 
directly through a broadband, ISDN, or 
dial-up connection, however, this is 
where you'll provide your login, pass- 
word, and other important information. 
Provided your hardware is all supported, 
you shouldn't have any problems getting 
everything up and running. The First 
Run Wizard will ask you to register the 
operating system. You don't have to regis- 
ter, but doing so gives you access to a few 
additional software applications. 

Security 

The Linux kernel includes its own 
integrated firewall. Xandros provides a 
Firewall Wizard that lets you easily cre- 
ate a set of basic firewall rules. In the 
Launch menu, select Internet from the 
Applications menu and click Firewall 
Wizard. (You will need to provide the 
Administrator password when prompt- 
ed.) The Firewall lets you select what 
type of incoming services you want to 
make available. In addition to common 
services, such as Web and FTP, there are 
also options for peer-to-peer applica- 
tions and gaming servers. 

Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of 
control over the Linux firewall. If you need 
access to a network resource that's blocked 
by your Linux firewall, you can disable it 
by selecting Firewall Control, which is 



60 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 









listed in the same place 
as the Firewall Wizard. 

Updates & New 
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One thing you will 
probably want to do 
first is apply any new 
updates using the Xan- 
dros Networks. Double- 
click Xandros Networks 
on the desktop and let 
it download a package 
list, which is a list of 
packages that are avail- 
able from Xandros for 
installation. After down- 
loading the package list, 
click the Application Up- 
dates folder on the left side of the Xandros 
Networks window and click the Install 
Now link next to Service Pack 1 . 

After downloading and installing Service 
Pack 1, click Install All Latest Updates 
From Xandros in the File menu to down- 
load and install any updates released after 
Service Pack 1 . The Update Status icon on 
the right side of the panel at the bottom of 
the screen will change from red to green 
when all available updates are installed. 

Now that your system is current, you 
can download and install additional 
software. Double-click the New Ap- 
plications folder on the left of the dis- 
play and select a category that you are 
interested in to view available software. 
Click an application in the upper right 
of the window to read more about that 
application. Click the Install link to 
install the software immediately. Al- 
ternatively, you can check an applica- 
tion name in the upper right of the 
window and continue browsing for 
additional software. When you're done 
looking for new software, click Install 
Selected Applications in the File Menu. 

If you registered Xandros, browse 
through items in the Shop category, as 
well. Many applications in the Shop cate- 
gory are only available to Xandros 
Networks Premium Members ($39 per 
year), but you'll find some nice deals on 
commercial software ($50 off StarOffice, 
for instance) and a few applications free 
to users who have registered Xandros. 
(GnuCash, for example, is financial soft- 
ware available to registered users.) 



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If you rely on a dial-up connection, you might 
want to install applications from the Xandros 
3.0 Deluxe Edition Application Disc. Click Set 
Application Sources in the Edit menu to 
configure Xandros Network to install 
applications from the bonus CD. 



Application CD 

If you purchased the Xandros Deluxe 
Edition, you received a CD containing a 
second Application Disc. If you have a 
broadband connection, set this disc aside. 
You can find updated versions of the 
same applications online. If you don't 
have a broadband connection, however, 
you might opt to install some applica- 
tions from this disc. 

In Xandros Networks click Set Ap- 
plication Sources in the Edit menu and 
remove the checkmark next to Xandros 
Distribution Site. Insert the Application 
CD into your optical drive and check 
CD-ROM 1 or CD-ROM 2, as appropri- 
ate. (If you only have one optical drive, 
CD-ROM 2 will be grayed out.) Click 
OK and provide the Administrator 
password if prompted. After Xandros 
Networks scans the CD, you can browse 
through the included applications in the 
same manner described above. Reverse 
the process when you want to download 
applications from the Internet. 

Debian 

Xandros Networks is actually just a 
slick interface to Apt, an old Debian 



favorite. Apt makes it 
easy for Debian users 
to install applications 
from special Apt servers. 
Because Xandros Net- 
works uses Apt, you can 
add Debian repositories 
and download various 
Debian packages using 
Xandros Networks. 

Although Xandros is 
based on Debian, it does 
have a few important 
differences. As a result, 
applications are pack- 
aged differently for Xan- 
dros than they are for 
Debian. According to 
Xandros, installing Deb- 
ian packages won't necessarily make the 
system unstable, but it may disable certain 
Xandros features. If you want to risk 
installing a few Debian packages, click Set 
Application Sources in the Edit menu, 
check Debian Unsupported Site, and click 
the Add button. Enter the following line: 

deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian 
sarge main contrib non-free 

Now click OK and let Xandros Net- 
works download a list of Debian packages. 
Debian packages may not appear in the 
New Applications folder, but they will 
appear when you enter a search string in 
the Search field. If you don't see the result 
you are looking for initially, click Expert 
below Search Results on the left side of 
the window. 

Removable Media 

As we mentioned earlier, Linux doesn't 
use drive letters. A file manager should 
appear whenever you insert a CD-ROM 
into the drive. If the CD is already in the 
drive and you want to view its contents, 
open the File Manager and click the optical 
drive listed on the left side of the window. 

If you use a USB drive, an entry for the 
drive will appear on the left side of the File 
Manager window when you plug the drive 
into a USB port. Click the new entry to 
view the contents of the drive. 

Manage Your Documents 

If you're running WinXP and Xandros 
on the same computer, you can make 
things a little easier on yourself by setting 





V 



your My Documents folder 
on the FAT32 partition you 
created during installation. 
Start by booting into WinXP 
and double-clicking My 
Computer. Select New from 
the File menu and click 
Folder. Rename the new fold- 
er My Documents and close 
My Computer. Right-click 
the My Documents icon on 
the Desktop or in the Start 
menu and select Properties. 
In the Target field, enter D:\ 
My Documents. (Replace D 
with the proper drive letter 
for your FAT32 partition.) 
When asked if you want to move files and 
folders to this new directory, click Yes. 
Reboot into Xandros when you're finished. 
In Xandros open the Xandros File 
Manager, right-click My Documents, and 
select Delete. (Move any files you want to 
save first.) In the File menu, select Create 
Symbolic Link and type My Documents 
in the Link Name field. Click the Browse 
button, select My Linux, and double-click 
the drive letter associated with your 
FAT32 partition. Click My Documents 
and click OK. Click OK once more. The 
symbolic link you just created is similar to 
a shortcut in Windows. Double-clicking 
that link in the Xandros File Manager will 
take you to the My Documents folder on 
your FAT32 partition. 

Control Center 

Like its Windows counterpart, the 
Control Panel, the Control Center in 
Xandros contains several modules that 
let you adjust certain aspects of your sys- 
tem. To open the Control Center, click 
Launch and select Control Center. 
There are numerous configuration mod- 
ules here that are divided into nine 
main categories: Display, File Manager, 
General Settings, Hardware Information, 
Network, Peripheral Devices, Power 
Management, Sound & Multimedia, and 
System Administration. You should take 
the time to explore all the options here, 
but we're going to focus on Display and 
System Administration settings for now. 

Display modules let you adjust the look 
and feel of your desktop. Click Display to 
see the list of configuration modules. Most 
of these modules are self-explanatory. The 




x@(M 



<<* 



Xandros Deluxe Edition installs everything 
for you, including 3D video card drivers that 
let you play games such as Tuxracer. 



Background module, for example, lets you 
select a background image for your desk- 
top. The Color module lets you select 
from a list of available color schemes. The 
Style module, however, may not be readily 
apparent. A style determines the way win- 
dow components (buttons, drop-down 
menus, and progress bars) are drawn. The 
Windows Decoration module, on the 
other hand, lets you select a specific bor- 
der decoration for each window. The 
Theme Manager lets you select from vari- 
ous themes that tie together a color 
scheme, style, and window decoration. 

If you make a change to a particular 
module, you need to click the Apply but- 
ton before selecting another module. If you 
select another module before clicking the 
Apply button, a dialog box will ask you if 
you want to apply the changes before con- 
tinuing. All Display-related options refer 
specifically to your desktop. Options under 
System Administration, however, usually 
affect all users on the system. We'll start 
with the Boot module. 

Select Boot under System Administr- 
ation and click the Administrator button. 
Enter the root password if prompted. By 
default, the Xandros boot menu waits 30 
seconds before automatically loading 
Xandros. If you want to load WinXP by 
default, rather than Xandros, select Win- 
dows XP from the drop-down menu. (You 
can also adjust the amount of time the boot 



r 




manager waits before loading 
the default OS.) 

The Login Manager mod- 
ule lets you configure the 
appearance and behavior of 
the login manager. Again, 
click the Administrator but- 
ton to make changes. You 
may not be asked for the 
Administrator password if 
you've entered it recently. 
You can adjust the appear- 
ance of the Login Manager, 
including the background 
image, font used, and even 
the greeting displayed. In the 
Convenience tab, you can 
check the Enable Auto-Login checkbox 
and select a user from the drop-down list. 
Xandros will automatically log this user in 
when it boots. Alternatively, you can 
check Enable Password-less Logins and 
select users who want to log in without 
having to enter a password. 

Finally, the User Manager module lets 
you add or remove users from the system. 
As with the previous modules, you'll need 
to click the Administrator button and 
possibly provide the Administrator pass- 
word before making changes. 

Networking 

There are two ways to share files and 
folders over a LAN. NFS lets you share 
files with other Unix and Linux systems, 
while Samba lets you share files with 
other Windows systems. Xandros does a 
good job of implementing both and mak- 
ing it easy for you to configure and use 
these resources. 

By default, file and printer sharing is 
enabled in Xandros. If you don't plan 
to share files and folders with other 
Windows systems, disabling this option 
may increase security a bit. In the Control 
Center, click Windows Networking and 
remove the check mark next to Enable 
File And Printer Sharing For Windows 
Networks. If you plan to share files and 
folders with other Windows systems on 
your network, you can edit your comput- 
er's name here. Also make sure you pro- 
vide the proper Workgroup for your 
network. You can choose between Share 
and User Security Levels. Share is the 
default Security Level, and it doesn't 
require users to provide a username or 



62 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



password when accessing files 
on your system. If you want 
to password-protect resources 
on your Xandros machine, 
change this to User. 

You can access resources 
on other Windows systems 
by clicking Windows Net- 
work in the Xandros File 
Manager. Clicking NFS Net- 
work provides access to 
resources on other Linux sys- 
tems. To make life a little 
easier, you can also mount 
folders from other systems to 
your local file system. Click 
Mount Network Share in the 
Tools menu of the Xandros File 
Manager. In the bottom portion of the 
Mount Network Share window, double- 
click Windows Network or NFS Network 
until you find the folder you're interested 
in. Click the Browse button to find the 
directory where you want to mount the 
network folder (the directory should be 
empty) and click OK. 

To share files and folders on your sys- 
tem, open the Xandros File Manager 
and right-click the file or folder that you 
want to share. Click Windows Sharing 
or NFS Sharing as appropriate. Click 
Edit for NFS shares or Permissions for 
Windows shares if you want to password 
protect a file or folder. 

Office On Linux 

CrossOver Office lets you install and 
run some Windows applications, including 
Microsoft Office and iTunes in Linux. The 
Deluxe Edition includes a full version of 




Crossover Office, included with Xandros 3.0 
Deluxe Edition, lets you run many Windows 
applications in Linux, including browser 
plug-ins, iTunes, and other applications. 



CrossOver Office. If you didn't buy the 
Deluxe Edition, you can purchase Cross- 
Over Office Professional from the Xandros 
Network Shop for $74.95, or the Standard 
version is available from CodeWeavers 
( www.codeweavers.com ) for $39.95. The 
Professional version includes a Shared 
Multi-User Mode that lets all users on 
a system access a single installation of 
CrossOver Office and all installed Win- 
dows applications. 

To install a Windows application using 
CrossOver Office, first select Office Setup 
from the CrossOver program group in 
the Applications menu. Click Next until 



JLA^ >a 1)a\ 



you see the CrossOver Office 
For Xandros Setup window. 
Click the Install button and 
follow the prompts to install 
supported software. A Win- 
dows Applications menu will 
appear in the Launch Menu. 
You can launch installed 
Windows applications from 
this menu. Some applica- 
tions may run, but certain 
features may be missing. For 
instance, you can't burn CDs 
from iTunes when running it 
in Linux. CrossOver Office 
also handles plug-ins that 
Linux doesn't normally sup- 
port, such as QuickTime and 
Macromedia's Flash. 

A Final Piece Of Advice 

We haven't talked much about the 
dreaded command line interface. As you 
can see, Xandros does its best to shield 
you from the command line. For new 
users, that's a good thing. Nonetheless, if 
you're serious about learning Linux, we 
encourage you to become more comfort- 
able with the command line. Different 
Linux distributions use different configu- 
ration tools, but the command line is the 
lowest common denominator between 
distributions. As a result, most tutorials 
provide command line instructions. The 
more you cozy up to the command line, 
the more comfortable you'll be with 
Linux in general and the less time you'll 
spend in Windows. CPU 

by Chad Denton 



HA$- 






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***:e">*s« 



CPU /May 2005 63 



Create Your Own 



One of the things that makes Linux fun to work with is its flexi- 
bility. Whether you are a consultant who wants to create the 
ultimate rescue CD or a home user who wants to create the ulti- 
mate portable desktop CD, there's a lot of fun to be had in sitting 
down and creating a custom bootable version of Linux for your- 
self. Bootable distributions, or LiveCDs, are essentially small ver- 
sions of Linux you burn to a single CD. You can then use the CD 
on various systems to boot a fully functional Linux OS without 
having to do a full installation to the hard drive. 

Be warned, though. Creating a bootable CD often isn't an 
exercise for the faint of heart. Typically you'll have to go through 
some trial and error before you get things set up just the way 
you want. However, the feeling of satisfaction you'll get when 
the LiveCD boots for the first time is worth the effort, and it's all 
downhill from there. 

Getting Started 

The best way to get started with creating your own LiveCD is to 
create a 650MB partition on your hard drive, which will function as 
a CD prep area. (There's actually a trick you can use to get up to 
1,500MB of data on a CD, but it is good practice to start smaller. 
See the mkisofs man page-type man mkisofs from a command 
prompt-and search for "decompression" for more on this.) From 
here, you have a few options. You can install a version of your pre- 
ferred distribution that will fit in this space, unpack the contents of 
an existing LiveCD in this space and alter the contents to meet your 
needs, or create your own distribution from scratch. No matter 
which option you choose, there are certain things you'll have to do 
that differ from the routines you use with a normal distribution. 



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The LiveCD List Web site is a good place to look for 
tons of LiveCDs to play with and dissect. 



Get ISOLINUX. First, you'll need to obtain ISOLINUX (svslinux 
.zvtor.com/iso.php) , which is a special boot loader that you can 
use to boot from a CD, even when you can't predict what device 
the CD drive is on for any given system. Regular Linux boot load- 
ers can't handle booting from a CD where the machine's hard- 
ware layout isn't known. If you are working with an existing 
distribution, ISOLINUX may already be available through your dis- 
tribution's package-management scheme. You'll most likely find 
ISOLINUX inside a grouping called SYSLINUX, and it may already 
be installed. If you can't find ISOLINUX in your distribution's choic- 
es, you can get it at Freshmeat (freshmeat.net/projects/syslinux) . 

Once the package is properly installed, create the directory 
/isolinux within your bootable prep partition. Copy the isolinux.bin 
program into this directory. (You will receive this file when you 
install ISOLINUX.) 

Configure ISOLINUX. To configure ISOLINUX so that it can 
boot your LiveCD, you need to create a file named isolinux.cfg 
inside your ISOLINUX directory. Within this file, type the following: 

DEFAULT linux 

LABEL linux 

kernel /isolinux/vmlinuz 

append max_loop=255 initrd=initrd.gz init=linuxrc 
LiveCD_subdir=/ 

SAY Welcome to my custom CD 

PROMPT 1 

Put the particulars in place. Once you've created this file, locate 
where your distribution stores your kernel. Often this will be in a 
/boot directory or subdirectory inside it. The kernel may be named 
as something starting with vmlinuz, linux, or kernel. You may need 
to refer your distro's documentation to be sure. When you find the 
kernel, copy the latest version to the /isolinuz directory and rename 
it vmlinuz. Now, find the initrd file with the same version number 
assigned to it as the vmlinuz file (which should be in the same direc- 
tory as the kernel) and copy it to the /isolinuz directory, as well. If 
your initrd file isn't compressed, use the gzip command to compress 
the version in your /isolinux directory, and make sure its name 
matches what you have in your configuration file. 

Build Your Boot Image 

With all the pieces in place, you can build your boot image by 
typing the following as root from a command prompt: mkisofs - 
o ~/LiveCD.iso -R -J -v -no-emul-boot -c /isolinux/boot.cat - 
boot-load-size 4 -boot-info-table directory \ 

Here, directory is the root of where you're storing your 
LiveCD's files, such as /mnt/LiveCD. Unfortunately, you may find 
these aren't exactly the parameters you will need in order to get 
the LiveCD working with your system. The mkisofs man page 
and the SYSLINUX Web page will be of help here. 



64 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




*%t fS 



Now you're ready to burn your boot CD. As those who have 
burned bootable CDs know, your first attempts burning CDs may 
not work. Thus, it's a good idea to use rewriteable media if pos- 
sible. Second, if you need to burn the CD from a command 
prompt rather than the GUI, you'll need to know the CD-ROM's 
device number. If you don't know it, you can type the following 
at the command prompt to find out: 

Cdrecord -scanbus 



At the end of the output, you'll find something similar to 


the following: 








1,0,0 


100)'Slimtype' 


'COMBO LSC-24081M' 


'3BM1' 


Removable CD-ROM 






1,1,0 


101)* 






1,2,0 


102)* 






1,3,0 


103)* 






1,4,0 


104)* 






1,5,0 


105)* 






1,6,0 


106)* 






1,7,0 


107)* 







The output shown here only lists a single CD-ROM drive. Many 
users have more than one drive installed. Use the particular drive's 
make and model information to determine which drive you need if 
you have more than one. The device number will look something 
like 0,0,0. Once you have this information, type: 

cdrecord -v speed=l dev=0,0,0 ~/livecd.iso 

If your device number isn't 0,0,0 substitute the appropriate 
device number. Additionally, although your burner can proba- 
bly burn faster than IX, burning a Linux ISO too fast can cause 
problems. A 4X speed is usually safe. You can also use other 
CD-burning solutions, such as K3b or GNOME's built-in tool. 
Most of the existing CD-burning software in Linux uses 
cdrecord under the hood. 

After The Fact 

The LiveCD that we've created here won't auto-scan for 
hardware like a Knoppix ( www.knoppix.com ) LiveCD will. The 
best way to learn how to build cool LiveCDs, however, is to get 
something working brilliantly on your own system first and 
then start dissecting distributions like Knoppix's LiveCD to see 
how it does what it does. 

Rather than making a new installation for your LiveCD, you can 
also pull files off your current installation. This gets a bit trickier, 
though, because you don't want to miss something vital. If you 
decide to use your current Linux installation as a basis for your 
LiveCD, copy the contents of the following vital directories into 
your LiveCD folder or partition before doing anything else: 



/bin, /etc, /sbin, /tmp, /usr, var, and the /lib/modules subdirectory 
that corresponds to the kernel you're going to use. You can then 
build up your installation from there. 

Once you're comfortable with making a smaller bootable 
CD version, give a larger one a try using the combination of the 
mkzftree command and the -z flag for mkisofs. You will use 
mkzftree right before mkisofs to compress all the files, and then 
mkisofs -z will tell the system to create the ISO such that it knows 
to uncompress data on the fly. How cool is that? 

Wrapping Up 



If you like the idea of a LiveCD but you'd rather not have to 
build your own, head to DistroWatch's LiveCD page (distrowatch 
.com/dwres.php?resource=cd) for pre-made specialty LiveCDs 
already available. Those who like Knoppix but prefer GNOME 
might want to check out Gnoppix (amu.debian.net) . There are also 
images available for those who want instant multimedia, instant 
virus scanning and forensics, and more. A longer list of LiveCDs is 
available at www.frozentech.com/content/LiveCD.php . 

If you do make your own LiveCD, remember that there are 
other LiveCDs available as open source. You can learn a lot 
from looking at the code of these LiveCDs to make yours bet- 
ter and faster than you could just by hunting and pecking on 
your own. LiveCDs are also being used today to offer previews 
of the latest releases of such apps as GNOME and KDE. Watch 
LiveCD News ( LiveCDnews.com ) for more on this. To view 
forums for those who use and create LiveCDs, see LiveCD 
Forums ( LiveCDforums.com ). A 

by Dee- Ann Leblanc 



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communicate with other LiveCD enthusiasts for 
support, information, or to just exchange ideas. 





pen source isn't just for Linux. You needn't give 
up your commercial operating system to get 
high-quality, open-source software, whether it's 
industrial-strength network services or easy-to- 
use, reliable, and functional end-user produc- 
tivity applications, utilities, games, and more. 

Although some developers find it is easier 
and more fun to develop for Linux (or other 
Unix OSes), Windows is a high-profile target 
for those who want their software running on 
lots of systems. For developers who don't care, 
someone will eventually try to port the app to 
Windows anyway if the program is good 
enough. Mac OS X's Unix foundation means 
it's easier to port Linux apps, so Apple users have 
an edge over Windows users looking for free software. 
But with tens of thousands of open-source software projects 
available, how do you choose your first? Buying commercial soft- 
ware can be easier; no one gets fired for buying from the market 
leader, but choosing the right open-source application can be more 
difficult if you don't know where to find the leaders. How do you 
find trustworthy open-source sources? What should you know 
before downloading and installing free software? Finally, getting 
support for open-source software is easy — if you know and follow 
some simple rules. Read on for some answers. 

Choose Your First Free Program 

If you're ready to jump into the world of open source, you 
probably want a program that's going to at least be as easy to 
install, use, and as powerful as the equivalent proprietary pro- 
gram. Here are some programs that can give you an edge. 

Firefox ( www.mozilla.org ). The browser sensation that's sweep- 
ing the nation, Firefox continues to break Microsoft's browser 
stranglehold. If you're only willing to try one open-source program 
under Windows, try Firefox. You'll be amazed at the ease of tabbed 



browsing, not to mention the comfort of not having to deal with 
endless pop-ups and worry about malware uploading itself to your 
system without permission. Firefox is from the Mozilla Organ- 
ization, which you'll recall is the open-source reincarnation of origi- 
nal Web iconoclast Netscape. You can also get the heavier-duty 
Mozilla browser for Windows, Thunderbird email client, or for 
Macs, the Camino browser optimized for Mac OS X. 

OpenOffice.org ( www.openoffice.org ). If you must have an 
office-productivity suite from a giant software company, 
OpenOffice.org is for you. The open-source alter-ego of Sun 
Microsystems' StarOffice suite, OpenOffice.org includes a word 
processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing pro- 
gram. It works transparently with many file formats, including 
those of Microsoft Office. The suite runs under Windows and Mac 
OS X, plus various Linux and Unix flavors. StarOffice, by compari- 
son, doesn't run on Macs, but as a for-pay version, StarOffice does 
include commercially licensed add-ons, such as a database 
front-end, spell checker, and clipart collection. 

ClamWin ( www.clamwin.com) . ClamWin is a Windows front- 
end to Clam Antivirus ( clamav.net ), an acclaimed alternative to 




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the high-priced commercial virus scanners. 
ClamWin can work as a standalone scanner 
or you can integrate it into Microsoft 
Explorer and Outlook. 

GNU Image Manipulation Program 
( www.gimp.org) . If OpenOffice.org is the 
free replacement for Microsoft Office, then 
GIMP could be billed as the free replace- 
ment for Photoshop. Use it under Linux, 
Unix, Windows, or Mac OS X. Under 
Windows and Mac OS X, you'll need to 
install a run-time environment, GTK+. 
(OS X users may also need to install X 
Window and other system software.) A 



separate GIMP for Windows project 
( gi m p- wi n .sourceforge.net) offers complete 
instructions for Windows users, as well as 
compiled binaries. 

Network Mapper ( www.insecure.org 
/nmap ). If you have security worries (and 
who doesn't) and any sense at all, you'll 
check out Nmap. Fair warning: If you're 
using it with Windows, it works, but not as 
well as under Unix. Even so, Nmap is good 
enough to routinely appear at or near the 
top of almost everyone's security software 
list, including crackers and other evildoers, 
and for good reason: It can scan single hosts 



or networks and tell you which ports are 
open for business on every IP node. 

Ethereal ( www.ethereal.com) . Whether 
you're troubleshooting an iffy network con- 
nection, monitoring system security, or just 
learning the ins and outs of networking, no 
tool is more useful than a protocol scanner. 
Ethereal can capture network traffic to and 
from your PC, identify and filter hundreds 
of different protocols, and give you a pro- 
fessional-level tool for analyzing what's 
going in and out of your computer. 

TheOpenCD ( www.theopencd.org ). 
Not sure what you want to try or you want 



Endless Apps: Install-time Suggestions For Linux Applications 



Do you love catalogs? We do. As children we poured over 
the huge Sears, Roebuck & Co. annuals, studying the 
seemingly endless variety of products, often trying to figure out 
what they actually did. Some Linux distros include thousands of 
packages, chosen as the most useful, interesting, and/or usable 
of countless current free and open-source projects. 

Browsing that catalog when you install Linux is a great way to 
find some surprising applications, as well as get a fast schooling on 
Linux. Flip the virtual pages of the SUSE Linux Professional 9.2 
install catalog by name or category at www.novell.com/products 
/linuxpackages/professional/index.html . Many packages are 
software libraries or arcane system packages, but there's more 
than enough miscellany to make for hours of fascinating reading. 

SUSE Linux comes with two personal finance managers. 
KMyMoney ( kmymoney2.sourceforge.net ) is for KDE and 
GnuCash ( www.gnucash.org) for GNOME. If you prefer to crunch 
your numbers the old-fashioned way with spreadsheets, there 
is the OpenOffice.org suite's spreadsheet, Gnumeric (www 
.gnumeric.org) , or KSpread ( www.koffice.org) . Cool and groovy 
describes Synaesthesia ( www.logarithmic.net/pfh/synaesthesia) . 



a program that lets you watch music. You can digitally "scratch" 
audio data to create your own hip-hop music with terminatorX 
( www.terminatorx.cx ) or play a synthesized pipe organ with 
Aeolus ( users.skynet.be/solaris/linuxaudio) . 

Learn to use an abacus with X Abacus ( www.tux.org 
/~bagleyd/abacus.html) in case the power goes down and you 
need to do some computing. You can also build your own com- 
puter, starting with free software pcb ( bach.ece.jhu.edu 
/~haceaton/pcb) to design printed circuit board layouts. Mix the 
retro-classic video game Breakout with an ultramodern look and 
implement it under Linux. Two of the best versions included with 
SUSE are BRIQUOLO ( briquolo.free.fr ) and Lbreakout2 from 
LGames ( lgames.sourceforge.net ). Even more retro-modern- 
classic are the dozens of free digital versions of classic board 
games, such as chess, backgammon, Go, Risk, mahjongg, 
Scrabble, and even a handful of Tetris clones. Aspiring software 
developers have access to dozens of compilers, interpreters, and 
assemblers, as well as hundreds of libraries for Java, Perl, Python, 
Ruby, Scheme, and of course C and C++. 

Happy hunting, and don't forget to finish your install. ▲ 




Breakout never looked so 
good as Briquolo, where you 
can customize your game for 
a realistic experience. 





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Gnumeric does everything 
you expect a spreadsheet to 
do, including generate graphics 
from your data. 



y /_y 



a nice software sampler so you can 
pick and choose and maybe even 
share? TheOpenCD project collects 
the crem de la crem, puts it all 
together on an easy-to-use CD ISO 
you can download and burn, and 
then use to preview and install the 
programs of your choice. In addition 
to versions of OpenOffice.org, 
GIMP, and Firefox, TheOpenCD 
includes CDex ( cdexos.sourceforge 
.net ) for CD ripping, the Battle for 
Wesnoth ( www.wesnoth.org ) turn- 
based strategy game, and over a dozen 
other apps. 

Open-Source Application Sources 

It's easy to get open-source apps if you're 
willing to switch to Linux. Just buy a com- 
mercial distro and install the apps you want 
when you install Linux. You can find most 
of the apps you'd ever want packaged in 
your distro of choice. Windows users don't 
have that choice; if you want an open- 
source application, you have to seek one 
out and download it. But from where? 
Aside from the no-brainer open-source pro- 
grams, how can you find the software that 
does what you want it to do? 

Among the best places to look are free, 
open-source portals that host or link to pro- 
jects and provide a resource for searching 
for suitable software. Two of the best- 
known, SourceForge.net ( sourceforge.net) 
and Freshmeat ( freshmeat.net) , are owned 
by Open Source Technology Group. 

These portals cater to developers who use 
the infrastructure to distribute software 
and communicate via message boards 
with their users and development com- 
munities, accepting comments and bug 
reports. But end users in search of apps 
can also use the portals to browse 
through the extensive databases of 
open-source licensed projects. Fresh- 
meat focuses on Unix and cross-plat- 
form software, themes and related 
eye candy, and Palm OS software. 
SourceForge.net is positioned as the 
"world's largest Open Source software 
development Web site," providing free 
services to open-source developers. 

Another option for finding quality 
open-source programs for Windows is to 
search for the application type, plus 
"Windows" and "open source." Additional 
Web sites to check out include: 



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Capturing and browsing network packets 
to do your network troubleshooting is 
a breeze with Ethereal. 



The OSSwin Project ( osswin.source 
forge.net) . Hosted on SourceForge.net, this 
project links to hundreds of open-source 
projects by category that run under Win- 
dows. It's a great place to start looking. 
XPedition ( xpedition.mine.nu/index 
en. html ). This site offers free open-source 
software and free for-noncommercial-use 
software for Windows XP. 

GNUWin II ( http://gnuwin.epfl.ch ). 
This is no longer an active project, but 
the site may still be useful for searchers, 
and it may be resurrected sometime soon. 

Free Support & Issues To Consider 

If you're looking for support, know the 
rules. RTFM (read the fine manual) is a 
must. There's always a manual somewhere, 




Firefox does an arguably better job of handling 
malicious Web content plus it supports tabbed 
browsing for accessing multiple Web sites in a 
single browser window. 



or FAQ, How To, or just a Readme 
text file. Study those materials first 
and reference what you've learned and 
what you've tried before you post to 
any forums so people don't get impa- 
tient with you right off the bat. Also 
spend some time with your favorite 
search engine to see if anyone else has 
had the same problem as you. 

If you're at a total loss, there are a 
few possibilities: Either you're out of 
your depth or you need to start with 
something simpler. Popular end-user 
apps almost always have easy-to-use, 
single-step, "click here to install" installers, 
so you shouldn't have to spend hours figur- 
ing out how to install a browser. If it's too 
hard, it's not ready for you or you're not 
ready for it. Find something else, and keep 
your eye on the project you started with 
because eventually it'll get easier to use (or 
else disappear). Another option is hiring a 
consultant. Sure the software is free, but if 
you need help, you need help. Check 
around the relevant lists and Web sites to 
see if anyone is offering support services. 

Before you run open-source apps on a 
closed-source OS, there are many consider- 
ations to consider. First, open-source soft- 
ware is almost always free, a huge benefit if 
you need new software for use on existing 
PCs. When there are fees, they usually 
apply only to costs of the media or down- 
loads. The same fee would apply if you 
install the app on one computer or 1,000. 

Open-source software offers greater flex- 
ibility in terms of function and updates. A 
tenet of the open-source movement is 
"release early and release often," so 
developers of popular projects may 
publish updates, revisions, bug fixes, 
and patches weekly or even daily. This 
means bugs are fixed faster, new func- 
tions are brought online more often, 
and programs can evolve more quickly 
than most commercial products. 

With open source, the user commu- 
nity can drive development to meet its 
own specific needs, either by adding to 
or changing the code or hiring pro- 
grammers to modify the code. If you 
need or want a program to work differ- 
ently, it's much easier to fix than with 
commercial apps. Even if you don't have a 
desire or interest in developing code, the 
fact that the programs are open means that 
you'll benefit from the efforts of everyone 



68 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 









X »\x 



in the user/developer community to 
keep the app reliable and secure. 

That isn't to say open-source appli- 
cations don't come with risks. Open 
source is a global movement, so many 
projects originate outside the United 
States, as do many contributors. Take 
caution when downloading and in- 
stalling software, whether open or 
closed. Ideally, you wouldn't run any 
software on your PC that you hadn't 
compiled yourself from source and 
without checking that source code to 
verify the software does what it claims to 
and that it doesn't do anything that might 
be harmful. You can't do any of that with 
most commercial software, so for a truly 
secure computing environment, open 
source may be your only option. 

The greatest security concern may be 
making sure you download and install the 
app you want, especially if it's compiled 
binary code. You don't want to download 
and install malware when you were expect- 
ing a Web browser. Open-source develop- 
ers know this. To protect their reputations, 
they generally take all security precautions 
to prevent attackers from inserting malware 
in place of actual software. 




The GIMP, a free and easy-to-use alternative 
to Photoshop, runs under Mac OS X, 
Windows, Linux, and other Unix OSes. 



Another fear users have is using a piece 
of software that's offered as legitimate but 
that's actually malware. For example, you 
wouldn't want to install a spyware detector 
that actually installs more spyware on your 
system. You can usually avoid this type of 
problem by using software from projects 
with a good reputation. Many open-source 
projects are funded by corporations or are 
led by well-known programmers. Again, 



your best protection is to scrutinize 
the source and compile it yourself, if 
you need a higher degree of assurance. 
As with commercial products, 
there's a fair amount of variability 
in availability and function of open- 
source applications. There's a wealth 
of well-known, reputable, and reliable 
general-purpose software for apps such 
as word processing, spreadsheet, sys- 
tem utilities, and networking, plus 
various less known projects. Fewer 
projects of less repute are likely to be 
available for specialized applications, 
but they are available. 

Finally, proprietary software vendors 
often argue that with open-source software, 
there's no company behind the code, 
implying that if it fails, there's no one to 
hold responsible. What they don't mention 
is that commercial software licenses, like 
open-source licenses, disclaim all responsi- 
bility for the software doing what it's sup- 
posed to do. You're as unlikely to recover 
damages from a proprietary vendor as from 
an open-source project if an app miscalcu- 
lates your company's budget figures. CPU 

by Pete Loshin 



Open-Source Software For Mac OS X 




ac users aren't left out of the free software fun. 
Because it's built on Unix, Mac OS X can use most 
open-source software written for Linux and other Unix OSes. 
In many cases ports are already available, so the software 
may be as easy to install as any commercial application. 

The Web site of Mac OS aficionado Marc Liyanage (www 
.entropy.ch/software/macosx) is a trove of open-source soft- 
ware that's ready to work with Mac OS X. The goodies there 
include PHP 5 (the easiest way to get PHP running on your 
Mac), MySQL and PostgreSQL database servers, ImageMagick 
Image Manipulation Tools, and a handful of other utilities. 

An easy way to install a wide variety of open-source soft- 
ware on your Mac (and make sure it's installed properly) is to 
use Fink ( fink.sourceforge.net) . Fink is compatible with Debian 
Linux's apt-get function, meaning that you can browse hun- 
dreds of Mac OS-ported open-source programs from a menu 
and then download and install any of them with a keystroke. 
You don't have to worry about makefiles or configuration 
scripts; Fink software just works. Fink installs programs in its 

own directory instead of the Mac OS directories, so it won't 
trash your system or files. 



DarwinPorts ( darwi n ports.open darwi n .org) is a similar pro- 
ject that delivers Mac OS ports of about 2,400 applications. You 
can download and install any of the software using a command 
line interface. To run DarwinPorts you must have either Mac OS 
X Developer Tools (for 10.2.x) or XCode (for 10.3.x) installed. 

SourceForge.net ( sourceforge.net) is the Mecca for open- 
source software for all platforms, including the Mac. Search 
the site for "Mac OS" and you'll discover hundreds of pro- 
jects ranging from finished, polished applications to just- 
hatched ideas. The OS X section of SourceForge.net's sister 
site, freshmeat.net ( osx.freshmeat.net) , also delivers thou- 
sands of applications, utilities, and games. 

Apple's Web site serves up a selection of high-quality 
open-source applications at www.apple.com/downloads 
/macosx/unix open source . The BSD Unix foundation 
known as Darwin, part of OS X, is itself open source. In addi- 
tion to downloadable binaries and source code, Apple offers 
reams of documentation for developers who want to build on 
the project themselves at developer.apple.com/Darwin . A 

by Kevin Savetz 






Learning Free With Logo 



With roots in research done on using computers in an 
educational setting almost 40 years ago, Logo still domi- 
nates as a tool for teaching kids to think about programming 
and computers. However, Logo creator Seymour Papert 
(January 2004 CPU, page 104) designed Logo from the start to 
be easy to get started with and to have virtually no upper 
boundary on program complexity. In other words, with Logo, 
kids can learn about drawing squares and circles with the cute 
little "turtle," and grownups can do hard-core computer 
science. The best part for educators, parents, and students is 
the wealth of awesome Logo implementations, excellent tutori- 
als, and super textbooks available free. 

Berkeley Logo is perhaps the granddaddy of all PC-based 
Logos. Written by Brian Harvey and his students at the 
University of California, Berkeley, in 1988, it has been under 
general public license since its release, mostly because Harvey 
says he's "old enough to remember when all software was 
free, and what a great atmosphere that was for cross-fertiliza- 
tion," so the GPL was a "natural choice." According to Harvey, 
using the GPL "has been terrific. For one thing, Berkeley has 
an intellectual property office that likes to make things compli- 
cated; this project would never have gotten out the door if I 
hadn't been able to convince them that nobody was ever 
going to make money on it! For another, this is the lowest- 
effort way for me to be sure that Berkeley Logo isn't going to 
be enmeshed in other people's commercial efforts. I know of 
three other versions based on this one, and they're all free, 
and I don't have to spend my time filing license agreements." 

Harvey also wrote "Computer Science Logo Style," an excellent 
and accessible three-volume series for teenagers and adults who 
aren't professional programmers. You can download the entire 
series at Harvey's home page ( www.cs.berkelev.edu/-bh ), 
though for personal use only. As a former school teacher, Harvey 
understands the value of open-source software in education. 

"Schools are poor. This year I'm volunteering at my local ele- 
mentary school, just for fun, and I've arranged to teach an after- 
school Logo class," he says. "It was easy to arrange because it isn't 
going to cost the school anything. If they'd had to get a commer- 
cial Logo and pay for a site license, I would have had a much 



harder time convincing them that they should spend the money 
on that rather than on something else, indeed, I'd first have had to 
convince myself that that'd be the best way to spend the money." 

No-Cost Logo Implementations 

The following resources are options for picking up a free 
Logo implementation: 

• Elica ( www.elica.net ). This Windows-only 3D Logo looks 
extremely cool and can do some very excellent things 
(including gaming) all in a kid-friendly format. 

• StarLogO ( education.mit.edu/starlogo) . This excellent Logo 
version from MIT can program multiple turtles and "patches" 
(bits of space within which the turtles act) that let the turtles 
interact with their environment. Released under a "free for 
research and education" license. 

• NetLogO ( ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo) . Another excellent 
research version of Logo under a free for research and edu- 
cation license from Uri Wilensky and the Center for 
Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling at 
Northwestern University. 

• Berkeley Logo ( www.cs.berkelev.edu/-bh/logo.html ). 
Brian Harvey wrote and maintains UCBLogo (Berkeley 
Logo), which runs under Mac, Windows, and Unix. 

• MSW Logo ( www.softronix.com/logo.html) . A Windows 
version of Brian Harvey's UCBLogo. 



The following are good resources for learning Logo: 

The Great Logo Adventure ( www.softronix.com/down 

load/tgla.zip, text; www.softronix.com/download/tglacd 

.zip, companion CD) 

An Introduction to MSW Logo ( www.southwest.com.au 

/~jfuller/logotut/logotut.zip ; www.southwest.com.au/~ 

jfuller/logotut/menu.htm ) 

Learning LOGO ( mckoss.com/logo ) 

Yukon College: Introduction to Programming Using Logo 

( www.yukoncollege.yk.ca/~srudge/comp052/notes.html ) 

The Logo Foundation ( el.media.mit.edu/logo-foundation ) 




StarLogo, developed 
at MIT, comes with 
a full range of 
preprogrammed 
models that reduce 
apparently complex 
behaviors and 
phenomena to fairly 
simple programs. 









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lit Mr >- .45 [Kill hudiq t ;*r] 





70 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



The Programs Linux Can't Live Without 



odularity means never having to say you're sorry 
about not having any choices. Linux is modular, which 
means it's built up from relatively simple components that 
work together interchangeably. Where monolithic OSes like 
Windows give you little or no choice about how your system 
works, Linux gives you complete control over everything. 

The kernel. The heart of any OS, the kernel is the first 
program to run when the system boots. The Linux kernel 
manages how the system handles data input/output and 
supervises sharing of the processor and other system 
resources by other programs running. You can optimize the 
kernel by tweaking it to handle special hardware support or 
services or run older kernel versions that may work better 
on your hardware. 

The boot loader. Think of a boot loader, such as LILO 
(Linux Loader; lilo.go.dvndns.org) or GRUB (Grand Unified 
Bootloader; www.gn u.org/software/grub ), as a specialized 
kind of OS capable of running only one kind of program: 
kernels. GRUB-capable of reading files, navigating file sys- 
tems, and loading kernels-is replacing LILO as the default 
boot loader for most Linux distros. 

The file system. The file system defines how data is 
stored and retrieved from your hard drives. You want a 
journaled file system that keeps track of any and all 
changes to your file system so that if the system halts unex- 
pectedly, it can restart quickly with minimal data loss. The 
ReiserFS file system ( www.namesvs.com ) is state of the art; 
modern Linux defaults to EXT3, which includes journaling. 
You can use FAT for Windows compatibility or SGI's XFS 
( oss.sgi.com/projects/xfs) for ultra-large file systems. XFS 
supports files up to 9 million terabytes. There's also IBM's 
JFS (Journaled File System; jfs.sourceforge.net) . 

The shell. It may kind of look like a DOS prompt, 
but the Linux shell is far more powerful, as it 
includes a programming environment under which 
you can develop advanced applications, plus check 
directories and copy files interactively. The gold- 
standard GNU Bash (Bourne-Again Shell; www 
.gnu.org/software/bash/bash.html) combines the 
best features of other shells, such as KornShell 
( www.kornshell.com) and the enhanced Berkeley 
Unix C shell, tcsh (www.tcsh.org) . Your distro may 
offer half a dozen shells for experts who know what 
they're doing. 

The windowing system. Microsoft didn't 
invent windows, and under Linux, the X Window 
System, a protocol under which clients (applica- 
tions) are assigned GUI resources by an X server, 
powers your GUI. Actually, two X implementa- 
tions are available as a result of a project "fork," 
a situation where one group of developers 
decides that the project should move in a 



different direction. Although both implementations sup- 
port the X protocols, X.Org Foundation supercedes and 
replaces the XFree86 Project ( xfree86.org ) in most cur- 
rent OS distributions. 

The window manager. Linux GUIs may be based on X, 
but X only provides a mechanism for drawing graphics 
on-screen. Don't like the close button in the upper-right 
corner of your windows? Try customizing your windows 
using your window manager. If you can't do it with your 
default manager, choose one of the dozens for the right 
combination of performance, function, and features you 
like. The Windows Managers for X Web site ( xwinman.org ) 
is a good place to start looking. 

The desktop environment. Combine a window manag- 
er with a full set of OS utilities and apps and you have a 
desktop environment like KDE (K Desktop Environment; 
kde.org) , which includes everything from Web browser/file 
manager Konqueror ( konqueror.kde.org ) to desktop TV- 
viewer application kdetv ( www.kdetv.org ). GNOME 
( gnome.org ), the other major desktop environment as part 
of the GNU project, aims to include only "free software." 

Printing. It shouldn't surprise you to learn that printing 
under Linux is modular, too. You or your app uses a printing 
client program to submit print jobs to a print server, such as 
the venerable Berkeley Line Printer Daemon ( Ipr.source 
forge.net ), which has been around for decades. The more 
modern CUPS (Common Unix Printing System; cups.org) , uses 
the Internet Printing Protocol and is generally easier to deal 
with. Unlike Windows, where almost every function is treated 
as part of the OS, under Linux you almost always have at least 
one choice for everything from file management and scripting 
languages to software installation and log file analysis. ▲ 




l*K3tlDi> ftfit ylcw £e faakmarftB I00I5 Settings flindo* B*lh 




KDE offers a clean GUI out of the box and the 
option to customize almost every aspect of your 
desktop environment's appearance. 



CPU /May 2005 71 



LOADING 



ZONE 




by Warren Ernst 



* @ o . ® o . 




The Bleeding 
Edge Of Software 

Inside The World Of Betas 

Nvu 0.81 (1.0 Pre-Release) 



Official product name: Nvu 

Version # previewed: 0.81 (1.0 Pre-Release) 

Publisher: Linspire 

Developer and URL: Disruptive Innovations; 

disruptive-innovations.com 

ETA: Q2 2005 

Why you should care: A quality open-source 

HTML editor doesn't come along every day. 



Firefox and Thunderbird aren't the 
only multiplatform, open-source 
products that come from Netscape's 
code. Meet Nvu, a standalone HTML edi- 
tor based on the HTML-editing module in 
the Netscape program suite. Nvu claims to 
be an ideal open-source replacement for 
such programs as Dreamweaver and Front- 
Page. In the sense that they all can edit 
HTML files and connect to a Web server 
via FTP, that's true. Nvu is a decidedly 
lightweight contender, however. 

That isn't all bad, especially when 
Dreamweaver's feature set can crush the 
beginner, and FrontPage's messy HTML 
code sometimes causes problems. Nvu has 
just enough power, produces very clean 
code, and is easy to learn. It also makes 
extensive use of tabs across the screen's 



TaskSwitchXP Pro 2.0 Beta 4 



Windows XP does a fine job of 
running multiple apps at once, 
but it doesn't have an elegant 
way to switch among them. There is the 
Taskbar and ALT-TAB, but try using these 
effectively with 10 or 20 windows open. The 
next-best thing may be TaskSwitchXP. 

TSXP replaces the ALT-TAB-initiated 
switcher with live images of your program 
windows, their icons, and a description of 
the program/file it has open. This doesn't 
sound like a big deal, but use TSXP awhile 
and the Task Manager starts to feel limiting. 
Similar programs exist (including Power- 
Toys from Microsoft), but none are as fast 
and configurable as TSXP. Thumbnails 
appear nearly instantly when you press ALT- 
TAB. Apps in the TSXP Task Switcher can 



72 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



appear as small or large icons with or with- 
out details in a grid or in a vertical list. You 
can pick apps by continuing to press ALT- 
TAB or make the Task Switcher "sticky" 
and use the mouse or arrow keys. 

Keyboard commands are configurable 
and include interesting options. Suppose you 
have four Word documents open in four 
windows, along with other apps. You can set 
a keypress to switch among the documents 
only or set TSXP to ignore certain programs 
that are always running but you don't need 
to switch to. Overall, TSXP is a free, open- 
source time-saver that anyone who uses mul- 
tiple programs at once should check out. 
There just aren't any downsides to it. A 



top to focus on different HTML files and 
tabs along the bottom to change views 
among full WYSIWYG, partial WYSI- 
WYG with HTML tag callouts, full code 
view, and a preview based on the Gecko 
rendering engine. 

Nvu has basic site-management tools 
built in, plus it can track a set of files and 
associated server information and can FTP 
files directly. It can't track the relationships 
between files, however, so beware when 
using it to manage large sites. An attractive 
toolbar keeps almost every HTML tag at 
your fingertips, save one debatably impor- 
tant set: There's no built-in frameset sup- 
port. If you hate frames, cheer out loud. If 
you use them extensively, keep looking for 
that perfect HTML editor. For everyone 
else, Nvu is worth checking out. A 








Official product name: TaskSwitchXP Pro 

Version # previewed: 2.0 Beta 4 

Publisher: Alexander Avdonin 

Developer and URL: Alexander Avdonin; 

taskswitchxp.sourceforge.net 

ETA: Q2 2005 

Why you should you care: Replace Windows' 

clunky task switcher with a useful, free alternative. 



Send Us Your Betas: Know of software in the beta stage that's deserving of some attention? 
Send your prospects to bleedingedge@cpumag.com . For more betas, subscribers can go to 

www.cnu ma2.c0m /cnumavOS /betas. 



LOADING 



ZONE 



Acoustica CD/DVD Label Maker 2.32 Beta 



It seems like every CD-label printing 
software package has fatal compromis- 
es. Some don't print directly on 
CD/DVDs, even if you have a printer that 
can. Some are tied to CD/DVD burning 
software and can only print automatic 
artist/title/content information immediate- 
ly after burning the disc. Some have too 
few templates, so all your CD labels look 
pretty much the same. Acoustica CD/ 
DVD Label Maker takes care of all these 
problems and more. 

If you own a printer that can print 
directly on printable optical media, 
Acoustica may be your new best friend, as 
it supports dozens of CD-compatible 
printers. If you don't have such a printer, 
Acoustica automatically knows the specs 
for hundreds of CD label types; it is 
unlikely you will have something that 
Acoustica doesn't know about. The pro- 
gram also knows how to get automatic 



track listings, including artist, title, play- 
ing time, and so forth, via a number 
of methods. It can read the CD text from 
an audio CD or get a listing from Grace- 
note's CDDB. If you have an MP3 CD, 
it will read all the ID3 tag information 
and generate a list, or it can import files 
from an M3U playlist or an iTunes 
playlist or library section. There's never a 
need to type a track listing again. 

Acoustica comes with about 20 differ- 
ent layouts and many interesting back- 
grounds, but importing your own is a 
simple drag-and-drop affair. Full font size, 
color, and curve control is also at your 
fingertips. If your printer or label isn't 
supported, Acoustica can export its labels 
as 600dpi bitmap files, which should be 
importable by anything else. 

Though nearly $20, if you regularly 
print on CDs or make CD labels, Acoustica 
seems worth its weight in gold. A 




Official product name: Acoustica CD/DVD 

Label Maker 

Version # previewed: 2.32 Beta 

Publisher: Acoustica 

Developer and URL: Acoustica; 

www.acoustica.com 

ETA: Q2 2005 

Why you should care: The ultimate in optical 

media (and label) printing. 




Chimera Virtual Desktop 1.2.0 Beta 



Official product name: Chimera Virtual Desktop 
Version # previewed: 1.2.0 Beta 
Publisher: Chimera Creative Studio 
Developer and URL: Chimera Creative Studio; 
www.chimera.hu 
ETA: Q2 2005 

Why you should care: The most feature-filled 
virtual desktop app around for Windows. 



Virtual desktop programs are 
standard equipment in Linux 
and Unix GUIs, but they have 
never really caught on in Windows. The 
biggest complaints seem to involve re- 
source consumption and general stability 
problems, even with the Microsoft- 
sourced Virtual Desktop Manager. Chi- 
mera Virtual Desktop seems to get 
around both these problems, as well as 
offer many different ways to interact 
with it to boot. 

I love and regularly use virtual desktops. 
I abandoned my longstanding favorite in 
favor of CVD for a few weeks, and indeed, 
the claims of high stability are true. There 
wasn't a single crash that I could attribute 
to the program. Additionally, I couldn't 
find any programs that confused it, and I 
have a long list of apps that flummox 
other virtual desktop software. 

Everyone thinks virtual desktop soft- 
ware should act the way they want it, and 
in this respect, CVD has you covered. Do 
you like a virtual meta-window that 



displays thumbnails of all your Desktops? 
Fine. Want the Taskbar to keep track of 
them, or perhaps you want a secondary 
Taskbar for switching? Gotcha covered. 
Want hotkeys or mouse gestures for 
switching? OK. Want a matrix of 3x3 vir- 
tual Desktops? How about a single row of 
9? No problem. You can enable or disable 
these features as you wish. 

CVD keeps track of Desktops and their 
applications admirably. If a pop-up win- 
dow appears on another Desktop, it can 
automatically switch Desktops to alert 
you. The program can also track an appli- 
cation's child windows and force them to 
stay in the same Desktop as their parents. 
Pop-up menus on every application's 
menu bar, as well as their Taskbar but- 
tons, make it easy to move applications 
from one Desktop to another. 

Though some of CVD's dialog boxes 
can seem a little clunky, there's some- 
thing appealing about all the functionali- 
ty that makes this shareware title worth a 
closer look. A 



CPU /May 2005 73 



SOFTWARE 



UPGRADES 





Upgrades That'll Keep You Humming Along 



This month brings a wealth of updated tools from Google, Opera, Netscape, 
and Avant Browser. Firefox also stays in the picture with a security fix. 



Software Updates 

Avant Browser 10 Build 153 

The update for the alternative browser 
improves tab handling, page zooming, 
pop-up blocking, and use of the middle 
mouse button. 

Get it at: www.avantbrowser.com 

BitTorrent 4.0 

The P2P file downloader gets a new, 
more customizable interface, adjustable 
upload rates, enhanced performance, and 
better handling of restarts. 

Get it at: www.bittorrent.com 

Firefox 1.0.1 

To plug a recently revealed security 
flaw, Mozilla developers issued this 
patched version. A more robust update is 
promised in the coming months. 

Get it at: www.mozilla.org/products/firefox 

Fraps 2.5.3 

The update for this 3D benchmarking 
tool and screen/video capturer includes 
bug fixes affecting OpenGL and Intel 
HD Audio, performance improvements 
on PCI-E systems, better video compres- 
sion, higher quality video capture frame 
rates and resolutions, and more. 

Get it at: www.fraps.com 

Google Desktop Search 1.0 

Now out of beta, 1.0 includes a search 
box that stays on your Desktop and the 
ability to search Netscape/Thunderbird 
mail, PDFs, images, and video files. 
Plug-ins are already available for creating 
customized Web searches and indexing 
help files. 

Get it at: www.google.com 



Google Toolbar 3 Beta 

This version has a spell check for Web 
forms, a built-in language translator, and a 
hyperlink to display maps. 

Get it at: www.google.com 

ICQ 5 

The IM client now has customizable 
Xtraz, which plug in such functions as ex- 
changing greeting cards and game playing. 
A Push-to-Talk feature lets you talk walkie- 
talkie style, and integrated video engages 
your Web cam during chats. 

Get it at: www.icq.com 

LimeWire 4.8 

The P2P client has new fixes and better 
control over setting download priorities. 

Get it at: www.limewire.com 

Netscape 8.0 Beta 

Version 8 incorporates the Firefox 1.0 
engine. Netscape's variation has a MultiBar 
that packs multiple toolbars into one set of 
buttons, plus more security options. 

Get it at: www.netscape.com 

Opera For Linux/FreeBSD 8.0 Beta 2 

Opera's next major release is in separate 
versions for Linux and FreeBSD, with 
increased security and user options, added 
autodetection of ATOM news feeds, better 
reporting of sites that don't support Opera, 
and changes to the UI, message handling, 
and page displays. 

Get it at: www.opera.com 

Mac OS X 10.3.8 

The OS update includes security fixes and 
improved directory services and file sharing 
across multiplatform networks, OpenGL 
performance from new graphics drivers, 



Bluetooth and USB 2.0 support, disc burn- 
ing, font handling, and printing. 

Get it at: www.apple.com 

PowerStrip 3.58 

This graphic card tweaker supports the 
latest GPUs, has better control over HD 
displays, and has better timing adjustments. 
Get it at: www.entechtaiwan.com 

Windows Malicious Software Removal 
Tool 1.2 

MS' killer has frequent profile updates, 
and this version detects and removes 
major viruses found through early March. 
Get it at: www.microsoft.com 



Driver Ba y 



Creative PCMCIA Audigy 2 ZS 
Notebook Ver. 2.10.08 

Updated drivers for the new notebook 
Audigy sound card will shorten Windows 
XP shutdown times when the FAX console 



is active. 



Get it at: www.creative.com 



Matrox Parhelia/Millennium Drivers 
1.08.133 

These WHQL certified Windows 
2000/XP drivers update the AGP and 
PCI versions of the Parhelia cards and the 
Millennium 650 and 750 models. 

Get it at: www.matrox.com 

Linksys Wireless G Router/Card with SRX 

For the new Linksys Wi-Fi-G system, an 
updated notebook adapter driver (1.4.6.52) 
revises the UI, and a firmware upgrade for 
the Broadband Router with SRX (1.01.04) 
fixes some bugs and enhances WEP securi- 
ty functionality. 

Get it at: www.linksys.com 

NVIDIA ForceWare Release 71.84 Beta 

Owners of SLI dual-video card systems 
may want these betas at nZone.com, which 
add 60 profiles for running games and apps 
on SLI dual-card configs and a CoolBits 
tool for creating profiles. DirectX9.0c and 
OpenGL 1.5 are supported. 

Get it at: www.nzone.com 

by Steve Smith 



74 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



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Reviews, specifications, and pricing available on website. NVIDIA and SLI are trademarks of NVIDIA Corporation. Turbo-Cool and PC Power and Cooling are registered trademarks of PC Power & Cooling, Inc. ©2005 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



Let's Talk About Text, Baby 



Text Editors & Beyond 

Text editors are the guerrilla war- 
riors of computing. Need to strip 
the formatting from something 
on the Clipboard? Paste it into a text edi- 
tor file and then Cut it back out. Unsure 
what a file with a bizarre extension con- 
tains? Force it open in a text editor and 
look for clues. Want to insert an HTML 
tag, view some hex, tweak some code? 
With a good text editor and a couple of 
keystrokes, you're gone in 60 seconds. 

There's no longer a sharp difference 
between a text editor and a word processor 
application, such as Microsoft Word, Corel 
WordPerfect, and OpenOffice.org Writer. 
Instead, the two categories mark different 
ends of a continuum, with Notepad-style 
minimalist editors at one extreme and over- 
stuffed bloatware on the other end. 
Traditionally, text editors have smaller 
RAM footprints and take up less hard drive 
space than word processors. They also have 
many fewer fonts (if they even have more 
than one), formatting options, and special- 
ized functions. Finally, text editors are gen- 
erally standalone apps with less integration 
with other software than word processors. 

Today, you'll find feature-packed text 
editors rubbing shoulders with light-duty 
word processors, such as WordPad, in the 
middle of the spectrum. Some reasons for 
the convergence are that bloggers and 
script tweakers wanted more newly rele- 
vant features from their bare-bones text 
editors, while everyday users grew tired of 
waiting for Word or OpenOffice.org to 
load every time they wanted to glance at a 
formatted document's contents. 

I looked at both types of text tools for 
WindowXP, under the assumption that 
you're already familiar with Windows' 
Notepad and WordPad freebies. Compat- 
ibility with Microsoft Word documents 
continues to be a factor for many users, so 
I tested each application by opening a 
moderately formatted Word 2003 file, 
using import features as available. 



Text Editor-ish 

Despite some rich feature 
sets, the following applica- 
tions lean toward the text edi- 
tor end of the spectrum. 

Boxer Software Boxer Text 
Editor 10.0.0 

If you are the DIY type 
when it comes to HTML, this 
may be the text editor for you. 
Boxer Text Editor is kind of pricey com- 
pared to the rest of this crowd, but its fea- 
tures are aimed squarely at power users. It 
displayed greeking at the head and foot of 
my Word 2003 doc, as I came to expect as 
my testing progressed, but at least it asked 
me how I wanted it to handle the docu- 
ment's null characters first. Boxer is com- 
patible with Windows 95/98/NT/Me/ 
2000/XP. 

Version 1 provides color syntax high- 
lighting and printing capabilities for 
HTML, Perl, and other languages. You 
can download free, additional syntax 
highlighting information files for Java- 
Script, Oracle SQL, and others near the 
bottom of www.boxersoftware.com/pg 
down.htm#bwin . 

Boxer can paste items from the Clip- 
board as HTML or unformatted ANSI and 
OEM text. It can also insert common 
HTML tags, find mates to tags, and remove 
all tags in selected text at a stroke. The edi- 
tor can display hexadecimal code, but in a 
read-only way. Boxer also packs a powerful 
macro creation tool with support for 
Boolean logic, variables, and conditionals, 
among others (try some of the examples at 
www.boxersoftware.com/pgmacros.shtml ). 
Yet another set of tools finds duplicate and 
unique lines of code or text in a file, which 
can aid in debugging. 

Apart from all the esoteric power fea- 
tures, Boxer is a text editor with broad 
shoulders. There's the usual spell check- 
ing (additional language dictionaries are 




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Boxer Text Editor 10.0.0 

$59.99 (20-day free trial) 
Boxer Software 
www.boxersoftware.com 

A \e& \<s& \«4 



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available for download, including huge 
medical and legal ones), font control, and 
color highlighting. Come to think of it, 
there's an awful lot of word processor in 
Boxer Text Editor. Novices may be over- 
whelmed by all the features, but develop- 
ers and Web site administrators will find 
a lot to love. 

JGsoft EditPad Lite 5.4.0 

"Lite" is right for this useful text editor 
with limited features. EditPad Lite lives up 
to its name, with no footnotes, TOC, or 
other academically useful features. It's just 
enough for many users, but folks who need 
bells and whistles should look to more spe- 
cialized apps or AbiWord. EditPad Lite 
and its $39.95 Pro version are available for 
Win95/98/NT/Me/2000/XP and many 
Linux distributions. 

Like most Web browsers, apart from 
Internet Explorer, EditPad Lite presents 
multiple open documents in tabs. This 
version doesn't hide the single tab when 
only one file is displayed, but you only 
lose about one line of screen estate 
because of it. For those times when you 
would rather see two documents at the 
same time, the handy New Editor icon in 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless 

76 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



^2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^^> 



g^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



Fiie Edit Block Convert Options View Help 




QStld'H! n n. - Jli V> 2 - tf p ^[^J « 


One, two! One, two! And through and 
through 

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! 
He left it dead, and with its head 

He went galumphing back. 

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? 

Come to my arms, my beamish boy! 
frabjous day! Callooh! Callayl' 

He chortled in his joy. 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; 

All mimsy were the borogoves, 
And the mome raths outgrabe. 






1: 1 Insert 



EditPad Lite 5.4.0 

Free (noncommercial use) 

JGsoft 

www.editpadlite.com 



^^^ 



the View menu automatically splits 
EditPad's window in two. The default 
setting creates two stacked horizontal 
panels, but you can change this to verti- 
cal windows side-by-side or one covering 
the other. 

Font and point size choices are behind 
an icon and a context menu item, although 
EditPad keeps a short list of recent choices 
on the toolbar. Unfortunately, version 
5.4.0 applied my font changes to the entire 
document, not just selected text. I did like 
the quick Go To Line feature on longer 
documents, however. I also appreciated 
the option to keep EditPad's settings in 
an INI file instead of cluttering up 
my Registry. 

EditPad Lite respects line break 
conventions for Windows, Mac, and 
Unix. It lets you convert documents 
from one of these formats to another, 
as well as among ANSI, Unicode, 
and others. You can even use Edit- 
Pad as an ActiveDisk app on a 
compatible device from Iomega, 
meaning you can use it without 
installing it on almost any PC. 

Like Helios TextPad (reviewed 
next), EditPad Lite removed all for- 
matting from my Word 2003 document 
and presented its metadata as gibberish and 
text before and after. I didn't understand 
why the program preferred to minimize 
itself to the System Tray rather than shut 
down, but it was otherwise well-behaved. 



Helios Software Solutions 
TextPad 4.7.3 

Like most text editors these 
days, TextPad has traditional 
word processor features, but 
it doesn't advertise them. You 
can change fonts and point 
sizes, for instance, but Helios 
buried this dialog in the Doc- 
ument Properties entry under 
the View menu. TextPad is 
more upfront about its spell 
checker, macros, and file-comparison fea- 
tures, however. 

Instead of tabs, TextPad's default config- 
uration grabs some on-screen real estate to 
maintain a list of open documents in a side 
panel. It's a snap to close that side panel and 
enable tabs, however. TextPad lets you drag 
and drop text selections among open docs, 
and you can save them all at once by hold- 
ing down the SHIFT key as you click Save. 

TextPad provides lots of text-manipu- 
lation tools you didn't know you needed, 
such as the option to capitalize just the 
first letters of selected words. Factor in 
the program's time-saving keystrokes, and 
you will find that the longer you use 
TextPad, the more you come to rely on it. 
True to its text editor roots, TextPad 
stripped out all formatting from my Word 
2003 file, including the hyperlinks. (The 
text of the URLs remained.) As expected, 
it also kept the summary information and 



Linux & The Mac 

The open-source world is rife with varia- 
tions of emacs and vi, the two big guns 
of Linux's text editor scene. Most distribu- 
tions come with derivatives of one or both. 
For the latest official versions of emacs, 
check www.gn u.org/software/emacs 
/emacs.html . As for vi, consider the vim 
clone at www.vim.org . Graphical environ- 
ments may also pack GUI text editors and 
light word processors, such as KDE's KEdit, 
KWrite, and Kate. 

On the Mac side, OS X comes with Text- 
Edit, which offers light word processing 
power and can retain much of the format- 
ting of Word 2004 documents. As Open- 
Office.org for the Mac is still not quite ready 
for prime time, many mainstream users 
turn to the $79 iWork Suite and its Pages 
word processor. Look for shareware and 
freeware alternatives at guide.apple.com 
/uscategories/productivity.lasso . A 

metadata as greeking at the top and bot- 
tom of the document. TextPad's Help file 
is more thorough than most, and the Web 
site offers tons of tips and FAQs. The edi- 
tor is compatible with Win95(SPl)/98/ 
Me/NT4(SP6a)/2000(SP4)/XP. 

Word Processor-esque 

On the word processor side of the con- 
tinuum, you'll find AbiWord and PolyEdit. 



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The ZIP Code database contained in Microsoft (r) Bookshelf (r) 96 is intended for reference 

The NBA and individual MBA t»e)«ber team identification-: used on or in this product are trac 

" i T, its Teams, Drivers, T e property of 

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" i 'Hi C e) Co] At 1994-1997 by Zagat. Survey, LLC. All rights reserved. (c) Copy] 
American fellow PagesCTMi (c) Copyright 1997 by American Business Information inc.. 5: 
(C) 1997 Hallmark Cards. Inc All rights reserved. Hallmark Connections is a trademark 
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TextPad 4.7.3 

$32 (free 30-day trial) 
Helios Software Solutions 
www.textpad.com 



This light word processor should 
worry Microsoft every bit as much as 
Linux and OpenOffice.org. It's free, 
yet offers all of Word's most-used fea- 
tures without the bloat. More impor- 
tantly, it was the only application in 
this roundup that preserved all of my 
Word 2003 document's formatting, 
including color highlighting and font 
attributes. It also hid the metadata, 
however, which some users prefer to 
snoop through to figure out which 
user created a document and to whom the 
copy of Word was licensed. 

AbiWord is available for Win95/98/ 
NT/Me/2000/XP; SUSE, Red Hat, Fe- 
dora, and Mandrake Linux; Solaris; and 
Mac OS X (Cocoa). Further off the beaten 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless >^ ^ ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ ^ >g^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 77 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 









4VT 



D*arGretelj 

Dtnil lake your Love away from me! Doait yon leave iny heart ul iiiisny! 

If yen so- Hiru I'll be blue. . .'can sc Irfukmt iiu b IleuiI Id do. :'"{ 

Dsrnt Bay tiisil Hiss is Hie cud. Instead of breaking up, 1 wish [bait we were u 



Hansel 



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AbiWord 2.2.3 
Free 

AbiSource 
www.abisource.com 



PolyEdit 5.0 RC Wombat 

$24.95 (free 30-day trial) 
PolySoft Solutions 
www.polyedit.com 



path are versions for QNX, BeOS, HP- 
UX, AIX, and others, with varying levels 
of support. As for human languages, ver- 
sion 2.2.5 (I tested version 2.2.3) offers 
dictionaries in 27 languages via download. 
Besides its default, proprietary ABW file 
format, AbiWord can open and save docu- 
ments in the usual TXT, RTF, and Word 
DOC formats. In addition, it can create 
HTML/XHTML files, MHTs, and com- 
pressed versions of ABW (ZABW) docs. 

AbiWord proffers big icons for easy 
access to all the usual word processor 
options, such as justification, view zoom, 




and column formatting. Its 
font and highlight color fea- 
tures work like Word's, except 
with more highlighting hues 
from which to choose. More 
advanced features include mail 
merge, footnotes and end- 
notes, and revision tracking. 

AbiWord underlines sus- 
pected misspellings, although 
at times the AI seems a little 
confused as to what part of a 
word it underlines. My instal- 
lation added a handful of international ver- 
sions of Courier and Times New Roman to 
the fonts already present on my PC. 
However, most of the fonts I tried looked 
suspiciously similar, leading me to conclude 
that not all are fully supported. 
| One major improvement 

over version 2.2.1 is that 
using Zoom to enlarge the 
on-screen view in AbiWord 
2.2.5 doesn't cause the docu- 
ment to print at the same 
scale. Also, version 2.2.5 fixes 
a glitch in click-and-drag text 
selection over multiple pages. 
In short, few typical users 
won't find AbiWord perfectly 
adequate for word processing 
and text editing alike. 

PolySoft Solutions PolyEdit 
5.0 RC Wombat 

This highly tweakable, feature-rich word 
processor runs under Win95/98/NT4/ 
Me/2000/XP. Besides its tabbed interface, 
the first thing you'll notice is an extra tool- 
bar of icons lining the bottom of the win- 
dow, not the top. Don't fret, though; all 
toolbars are movable and they crowd to- 
gether without complaint. 

PolyEdit can compress and encrypt 
documents saved in its ETF format, using 
the Blowfish algorithm in addition to the 
unfortunately, recently broken SHA-1. It 
can embed objects and images, the latter 
including PNG files, JPEGs, BMPs, GIFs, 
and icons. The processor supports basic 
tables and multiple columns, as well as 
hyperlinks, and features syntax highlight- 
ing for C++ and other languages. 

Another key feature for many users is 



10 Reasons To Say 
Goodbye To Notepad 

1 . Saving a file often moves the cursor 

2. Word Wrap can introduce spaces 

3. May hang when opening large files 

4. Can't do syntax highlighting or printing 

5. Can't save in any format but TXT 

6. Can't email or FTP 

7. No spell checker 

8. No macros 

9. No tabs 

10. It's Microsoft! 



PolyEdit's email client, which has a simple 
address book with an import feature. 
Speaking of importation, the app also offers 
some conversion flexibility for all of the 
common formats, plus Lotus, ROT- 13, and 
KOI-8. Lastly, but by no means finally, 
there's a love-it-or-hate-it IntelliComplete 
feature that automatically guesses the words 
you're typing to save you time. 

PolyEdit offers to import documents 
made with Word through version 2000, 
but not my Word 2003 document. When 
I opened it in the normal way, PolyEdit 
stripped all formatting but the hyperlinks 
from the text and added the expected 
greeking at the top and bottom. 

Version 5.0 has no revision tracking or 
footnotes. Also, the Help file is a joke unless 
you're looking for shortcut keystrokes. Still, 
you'll have a month to use PolyEdit free 
and find out if it does everything you'll ever 
need. As a lean, mean word processor or a 
text editor with serious benefits, PolyEdit is 
definitely a contender. Just don't ask me 
where the "Wombat" name came from. 

Text Talk 

The free, powerful AbiWord processor 
is the smartest choice for most users, 
hands down. If you're not in the "most 
users" category, you know which special- 
ized features you need, such as program- 
ming language, FTP, or blogging support. 
Try any of the above (their time-limited 
evaluation versions are fully functional) 
until you find the right combination of 
power and comfort. A 

by Marty Sems 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average ^ 
78 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



g^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



PentaWare PentaSuite 7.5 




PentaSuite 7.5 

$99.95 

PentaWare 

www.pentazip.com 



. 



The heart of the 
suite lies with 

PentaBrowser, wh 

mimics the features of 

Windows Explorer to let 

you copy, rename, 

move, and examine the 

contents of folders. 



To compress, encrypt, view, send, 
and save your files typically requires 
half a dozen programs, such as WinZip, 
PGP, Windows Explorer, an FTP client, 
Adobe Acrobat, and Nero. If using all of 
these applications doesn't sound like your 
idea of simplifying your life, you might 
be interested in PentaSuite 7.5, an all-in- 
one file utility suite. It offers 1 8 separate 
programs that can organize, convert, 
rearrange, and send your files. 



File Management & Viewing 

The heart of the suite lies with PentaBrowser, 
which mimics the features of Windows Explorer 
to let you copy, rename, move, and examine the 
contents of folders. Within the PentaBrowser, 
you can use toolbar icons, pull-down menus, or 
right-click pop-up menus to access other pro- 
grams, including: 

• PentaView, which displays the contents of a 

graphic or text file 

• PentaCollector, which lets you create a list of 

files to perform a batch process such as 
copying and compressing multiple files on 
an external hard drive 

• PentaConverter, which converts graphic and 

text files 

• PentaAlbum, which arranges multiple graph- 

ic files into HTML and PDF pages 

PentaView can display the file contents of 
nearly any graphic file, including unique graph- 
ic formats that most popular digital cameras 
use. Beyond graphic files, PentaView is limit- 
ed to ordinary text files and Microsoft Word 
documents. If you have a PowerPoint or Word- 
Perfect file, for example, PentaView won't dis- 
play its contents. 

PentaCollector lets you select multiple files 
to compress, move, and more importantly for 
digital camera enthusiasts, rename files. Many 
digital cameras store files with generic names, 
such as MVC-001, so renaming multiple files 
with more descriptive file names with this pro- 
gram makes PentaSuite worth its price alone. 

PentaConverter, combined with PentaCol- 
lector, can convert one or more files into another 
file format. Again, the app provides plenty of 
support for various graphic formats, including 
specific digital camera formats, but it provides 



little support for anything beyond converting 
text and Word files to PDF files. If you want to 
convert a graphic file to the ancient MacPaint file 
format, you can, but you won't be able to con- 
vert WordPro documents into MS Word files. 

PentaAlbum focuses on arranging multiple 
graphic files into album pages for storing in 
HTML or PDF files, which can be handy for 
posting on a Web site or emailing to others. 

Compression & Encryption 

Rather than email multiple files, most users 
compress files into one archive, which reduces 
the total file size. PentaZip works exactly like 
WinZip or PKZIP. While WinZip and PKZIP 
encrypt files in mutually incompatible formats, 
PentaZip lets you encrypt/decrypt compressed 
files following either WinZip or PKZIP encryp- 
tion formats. That means you can share encrypt- 
ed files with both WinZip and PKZIP users. 
(Currently WinZip and PKZIP can decrypt files 
the other program created, but WinZip can't 
encrypt files in the PKZIP format, or vice versa.) 

For email security many people use PGP, 
which isn't the most intuitive encryption program 
around. To help you out, PentaPGP wraps a 
friendly user interface around the PGP program 
so you can conveniently encrypt and decrypt 
email to protect your messages from prying eyes. 

FTP & CD/DVD Burning 

If you need to update Web pages or transfer 
large files, the suite includes PentaFTP. If you 
want to save files on a CD or DVD or burn an 
ISO image to a CD or DVD, PentaSuite 7.5 
includes a PentaCD and PentaDVD burner. 

PentaSuite 7.5 offers a lot of power for the 
price. Unfortunately, with so many ways to 
access different features, it's easy for novices and 
even advanced users to feel a bit overwhelmed by 
all the choices. If you work with common busi- 
ness file formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, 
and PowerPoint, PentaSuite 7.5 can be a handy, 
but not indispensable, tool. If you work primari- 
ly with graphic files, however, you'll be rewarded 
with an especially useful suite of programs that 
can tackle any task you may want to perform 
with any of your graphic files. The programs 
work with Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP. A 

by Wallace Wang 



CPU Ranking: \ = Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ Ng 2.5 = Absolutely Average Ng^ \g^ ^ n^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 79 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



Norton PartitionMagic 8.0 vs. Norton Ghost 9.0 









tf £\&M*c>\% M%\e£ 


0^1090 




^ Symantec. 


Pick a Task... 

f^ Create a backup partition 

. . ' '■■ ■. :'■.. 

■0P Redistribute free space 


t5> Diskl -152625 MB 














C: 

.MB NTFS 


























5> Disk 2 -152625 MB 
















D: 

52,62! 3 MB NTFS 


1 












Partition Operations 

flf Resize/Move partition 
^> Convert partition 

Q Propert.es 












DH 
















Partition I Type 


Size MB 


Used MB Unused MB Status Pri/Log 


Diskl 




101,19... 51,422.0 Active Primary 
0.0 0.0 None Primary 


Local Disk (C:) ■ NTFS 
Disk 2 


152,61... 
7.8 


1 Operation Pending 

1 Resize New Volume (F:) to 14456.9 ... 


Local Disk (D:) □ NTFS 
Disk 3 


;' B2 












(>Q Undo J \Q Apply j 








FAT FAT32 NTFS .LinuKE«t2/3 ■ Linux Swap Extended Unallocated 


Unformatted 


Other Used Unused 


'..'...'.. '. ' . . ' ' '■ ' '.'.:. 




1 operation pending 



Once upon a time, the hard drive that came 
with your computer was the drive your 
computer would probably be buried with. Now, 
it's likely you'll upgrade the hard drive at least 
once before you upgrade the PC itself. And 
drives are so big the only way to back them up is 
copy them to, you guessed it, another drive. 

Many applications 



PartitionMagic 8.0 

$69.95 

Symantec 

www.symantec.com 




can help you install, 
copy, repartition, and 
back up hard drives. 
Symantec purchased 
two of the most sig- 
nificant — Partition- 
Magic from Power- 
Quest and Ghost, 
originally of New 
Zealand's Binary Re- 
search — and added 
them to the Norton 
stable. Some changes 
have been good, and 
some not. 

PartitionMagic was 
the first commercial product to let people 
resize and split partitions without first deleting 
the data contained within. Earlier versions ran 
as a standalone program you needed to boot 
separately. Version 8.0 installs and runs as a 
Windows app and only reboots the system if 
needed, making it friendlier to work with. 

At installation, Par- 



■ ' '■ '■' . .' / ■:.'-.' '\ '. - : ' ... - V . . 



. : v . .:-... :;:.'•". .. 



Q (C:\) 
Q (DA) 
<# (GA) 



152625 MB 
152625 MB 



Used Last Backup 
97616 MB 
95666 MB 
35621 M B 2/28/2005 11:12:22AM 



...... 

Free space: 



37,351 ,456,763 bytes 34.8 GB , 
122,687,782,81 2 bytes 14.3 GB \ 



.^■•ic^..cL\Loy;xm ":".:■ U- AM 

:!':.:. • ;;. c.r. ( . . - . - . 



Ghost 9.0 

$69.95 

Symantec 

www.symantec.com 



titionMagic prompts 
you to create a boot- 
able rescue diskette 
(actually, two), which 
you can use to repair 
damaged partition ta- 
bles or roll back mis- 
takes. You can also 
boot the installation 
CD to bring up a 
DOS-mode version of 
PartitionMagic with 
many of the same 
functions as the full 

Windows version. This is perfect for backing 

up or restoring partitions without booting the 

computer in question. 

If you have used earlier PartitionMagic 

versions, 8.0 shouldn't be a major shock. The 



:;:./.£: :J3:.: :vU:v -W " :JH 



interface has been reworked slightly, but 
some of the metaphors remain the same. The 
app displays all the available partitions in 
your system in a graphic, along with descrip- 
tions of the cumulative changes made to 
them. If you make several changes at once, 
such as shrinking a partition and then adding 
and formatting a new partition in the result- 
ing empty space, the system may need to 
reboot: especially if you're changing a parti- 
tion with the current OS on it. 

The time required to make changes to a 
partition depends on the work and partition 

Symantec purchased two of the 
ficant-PartitionMagk 
Quest am Ghost, orij 
New Zealand's Binary Research-and 

Norton 

size. Shrinking a partition that doesn't need 
defragmented first, for example, is usually 
quick (a few seconds); ditto splitting an exist- 
ing partition. Copying partitions between 
drives, however, can take hours, especially 
with gigabytes of data. If you have data verifi- 
cation turned on to ensure the copied data is 
OK, things slow down even more. (This isn't 
the program's fault; it just takes time to move 
that much data.) 

I liked the wizard-driven tasks available in 
the program. Redistribute Free Space takes 
any hard drive with multiple partitions and 
redistributes the free space available. This is a 
big help if you have one partition with little 
space and another with too much. Install 
Another Operating System sets up a partition 
to receive another OS without messing up 
the one you're using. You can do this with or 
without BootMagic, Symantec's boot-man- 
agement program. If you're installing an OS 
with its own boot manager, you can use that 
or use BootMagic. 

Norton Ghost 9.0 seems radically redesigned 
compared to previous versions. In some ways 
9.0 is a step forward, but in others it's a step 
back. Veteran users probably won't like it as 



CPU Ranking: \ „_ = Absolutely Worthless >g^ ^ ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average N^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



80 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



much as newcomers. I miss the older features, 
such as restoring images across a network from 
a floppy with minimal user intervention. 

Earlier editions, such as Ghost 2003 (pro- 
vided as a freebie in 9.0) were designed for 
one-to-one or one-to-many system imaging 
in professional or corporate environments. 
The new version is advertised as a backup 
solution, or a way to automatically create 
images from hard drives without having to 
shut down and reboot. 

Ghost 9.0 installs as an application on a 
PC or runs as a standalone program that you 
start by booting the install CD, called the 
Recovery Environment. The program copies 
contents of a partition to a special image file, 
which also contains metadata about the 
partition. (If a partition is mostly empty, the 
empty space is intelligently compressed.) The 
app doesn't change partition sizes on the fly 
or perform other kinds of interactive editing 
of drives, though. 

Older Ghost versions didn't always allow 
network access to a share on a Windows 
machine; you had to boot Ghost to share out a 
Ghost image. Now you can copy Ghost images 
between Windows machines without rebooting 
the machine that's doing the sharing. The tar- 
get image file can be on another drive, network 
share, or spanned across multiple removable 
media (writeable CD/DVDs). You can't record 
scheduled backups to removable devices, but 
you can run any of the backup/restore opera- 
tions that don't require rebooting or using the 
recovery environment without interrupting 
other work. 

The standalone recovery environment is a 
good idea that hasn't been implemented well. 
It boasts many of the same features as the full 
program — restoring/backing up partitions 
to/from local, network, or removable drives — 
but it's frustrating to use. For example, it 
requires a minimum of 256MB of RAM to 
run; less powerful machines will never be able 
to use it. Accessing Ghost images across the 
network from the Recovery Environment is 
also more difficult than needed. I ran into 
many problems with passwords across shared 
folders. (You need to read the manual careful- 
ly.) The Recovery Environment also isn't 
scriptable, so restoring many machines from 
one image is no longer that easy. A 



Five Ways To Use Each Program 



If you are thinking of buying 
PartitionMagic or Ghost or you 
already have them, make sure you get 
the most out of them. Here are five 
ways to help to do just that for each: 

PartitionMagic 8.0 

1. Merge unneeded partitions. 

Don't keep multiple partitions on the 
same hard drive unless you have a good 
reason. The most unimpeachable rea- 

Isons are dual-booting, storing data in 
different partition formats (NTFS vs. 
FAT32), and data security. Storing apps 
on one partition, data on another, an OS 
on a third, all on the same drive is waste- 
ful, though. Put them on separate physi- 
cal drives if possible. 

2. Clone overnight. When I tested 
PartitionMagic and Ghost, the average 
time to copy a full 25GB partition 
between two SATA drives was 45 min- 
utes. If you're copying a 1 60GB drive, 
prepare to wait five hours. 

3. External drives don't work if you 
boot the CD. The DOS-based version of 
PartitionMagic doesn't support external 
USB/FireWire drives. You can only copy 
to/from such drives in Windows. 
Remember this if you're doing a DOS- 
based system restore. 

4. Turn off advanced error check- 
ing features if you are confident. 
PartitionMagic has some command- 
line options you can use that can 
speed it up if you are confident about 
the quality of your hard drives and 
data. /IFC turns off file system checks, 
/NBS disables bad-sector checking, and 



/I24 turns off warnings about the 1024 
cylinder boundary. 

5. Turn on write verification if 
you're worried. The /RAV command 
line switch forces the program to verify 
every bit written against its source. Use 
this if you're worried about the quality 
of the hard drives you're copying 
to/from. 

Ghost 9.0 

1. Back up passively. This is 
Ghosf s best feature. The incremental 
backup feature makes it doubly useful; 
you don't have to back up everything, 
just what changes. 

2. Keep a tiny image handy on DVD 
for quick imaging of a new system. If 
you're re-imaging a test system, you can 
cram a minimal system image into 5GB 
or so, usually a lot less. 

3. If you prefer, use Ghost 2003 
(included) to do mass system imaging 
the old way. It's possible you may like 
Ghost 2003 better than the new version. 
Thankfully, Symantec has included it 
with 9.0. 

4. Get email notification. Ghost can 
send an email whenever it performs a 
backup or restore operation. This is 
handy if you're using it to manage a 
server and you want to know how 
things are running. 

5. Use system index files. Ghost 
tracks backup/restore operations for 
multiple hard drive images through a 
single system index file. If you can't find 
where your last backup for a drive was, 
open the index file in Ghost. ▲ 






Symantec Owns Both? 



Each program is aimed at a different class of user and set of functions, which 
explains why Symantec bought both. Ghost can image partitions from one drive 
to another and even across the network, but it can't reside or edit existing partitions. 
PartitionMagic can do some drive-copying functions but doesn't image partitions to 
files and doesn't copy from machine to machine. If you do a lot of manipulating and 
copying of partitions on one machine, use PartitionMagic. For machine-to-machine 
imaging, go with Ghost. ▲ 



by Serdar Yegulalp 



CPU Ranking: = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ >g 2.5 = Absolutely Average \g^ ^ vg^ \g^> ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



CPU /May 2005 81 



SOFTWARE 



REVIEWS 



= Ffc Cdk Yiaw Fwtrtss Tocfe IWp ; ^' I Ad: http-:jir>j5i:?.»ei«n 


; QtocK 'J liL] 1*1 ii pSwr* ^"Favorites * j ^5o«H 


Podium for Mac OS X 

By J*toh SpiinUl 




r\ 6 Hudiurn 




Sync Unread Mai Lapp E-mail Messages 
2) Sync Palm Memos 3 : From Palm Desktop 
©From NoteTaker 

'_' Trigger iSyne 
M Sync Web Pages: 




VKb Psg« to topy !0 iP»xJ 
hap:!/ my.Yalioo.com 










( Add X Heme« 1 
Syne RSS Headlines: 







Utilities For Your iPod 



Podium 1.0.3 

Free 

Jacob Spindel 

mysite.verizon.net/jacobspindel 

/podium.htm 




PlayPod 0.3.3 

Free 

IGG software 

www.iggsoftware.com/playpod 



A*U«~ 






f J£££!t 


1 giPodSoJt f ft^-^y 




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iPodAgent 0.7.1.0 

Free 

Mark Reddick 

www.ipodsoft.com 



• Tunes is superb at organizing and transfer- 
JL ring music to the iPod, but it's not the only 
app that can talk to your iPod. Many develop- 
ers have created free add-ons for Mac OS X 
and Windows to make the iPod even better. 

Podium 1.0.3 

If you take your iPod everywhere, fill it 
with data you can use on the go, in addition 
to your music. Podium synchronizes informa- 
tion between a Mac and an iPod. You can use 
it to store unread email, Web page text, RSS 
news feeds, and memos from Palm Desktop. 
Just tell Podium the URLs of your favorite 
blogs, click Sync, and the headlines are sent to 
the iPod's Notes folder. You can then read 
email and blogs while away from 
your Internet connection. 

In my testing, I kept seeing a 
cryptic AppleScript error message, 
and the email sync function only 
worked with Apple's Mail client. 
(Entourage and Thunderbird users 
are out of luck.) The biggest draw- 
back is the iPod's 4KB limit on 
notes. If a future version can split 
long files into 4KB chunks, Pod- 
ium would be an indispensable 
tool for iPod addicts. 

PlayPod 0.3.3 

If you have heard about podcasts but don't 
know how to start listening, start with Play- 
Pod. The app is an RSS viewer optimized for 
audio. As you browse a list of available pod- 
casts, you can read the program 
descriptions and preview the audio 
files on your Mac (or listen to the 
entire program). Just click the 
Download button to fetch the 
audio file and move it to iTunes, 
automatically filing it into the 
playlist of choice. When you plug in 
your iPod, the podcast will be ready 
to listen to. 

You can set PlayPod to automatically down- 
load all the new podcasts of a favorite feed after 
they're put online; meaning a never-ending 
stream of great audio content. PlayPod is still 
in beta, but it's a free, easy way to discover and 
download podcasts. 



r 



Podtastic Web Sites 

j Tunes Music Store fans will want to visit 
I TunesTracker ( www.tunestracker.com) , a 
free service that alerts you via email or RSS when 
the store has new songs by your favorite artists 
and composers. Additionally, a news page gath- 
ers iPod and iTunes news from around the Web. 
Smart Playlists (www.smartplaylists.com) pro- 
vides ideas for using iTunes' Smart Playlists fea- 
ture to organize your music in creative playlists, 
such as B-sides, remixes, and songs from movies. 
Mac OS X users can enhance iTunes with Doug's 
AppleScripts for iTunes (www.malcolmadams 
.com/itunes) , which add such features as dupli- 
cate track removal, finding album art, and mov- 
ing files from the iPod to the Mac. ▲ 



iPodAgent 0.7.1.0 

iPodAgent, a multipurpose utility for 
Windows users, can export music from the 
iPod to the PC, a feature Apple doesn't 
include. That feature can be vital if your PC's 
hard drive crashes, taking your music collection 
with it. iPodAgent can also export a list of the 
music on your iPod, saving it as a HTML file, 
comma-delimited text file, or plain text. 

iPodAgent's features for putting data into an 
iPod may be more useful on a day-to-day basis. 
A Save Notes feature lets you save any text file 
to iPod's Notes or Contacts folders. Notes larg- 
er than the iPod's 4KB limit are automatically 
split into separate, linked notes. The real fun 
starts with the Synchronize feature, which 
grabs data from the Web and saves it as notes 
on the iPod. You can easily import RSS feeds, 
weather reports, movie times, and daily horo- 
scopes. Text files are in 4KB chunks, so you 
can spend an afternoon reading lengthy blog 
entries on your iPod screen. You can also 
export mail, tasks, and calendar items from 
Microsoft Outlook (but not other email 
clients) and have Outlook contacts synchro- 
nized to the iPod's Contacts folder. 

iPod Agent is in beta, and despite some UI 
quirks, it's an easy way to put useful data and 
entertaining reading on your iPod. A 

by Kevin Savetz 



CPU Ranking: \ „_ = Absolutely Worthless ^ ^ ^ 2.5 = Absolutely Average N^ ^i ^ Ng^ ^ 5 = Absolutely Perfect 



82 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



Dialogue Box 



Genius Gmail Gtools 



by Chris Pirillo 



Have a Gmail account yet? Want one? Ask a 
friend because I'm fresh out of invitations. 
What's the allure of having an address @gmail 
.com? I'm not sure, other than completing your 
collection of Google software and services. You 
probably already have the Google Toolbar, 
Google Desktop Search, Google Deskbar, and 
the newly acquired Picasa Photo Organizer. You 
probably use Google Maps and Froogle, too. 

Gmail is the easiest to use of all the Web- 
based email services, no argument. It's clean 
with unobtrusive, context-sensitive advertising; 
everything else pales by comparison. Hotmail 
could offer 10X the storage and still not get 
people to switch. It's all about Google, man. 
Get with the program — or download free pro- 
grams that'll make your Gmail account even 
more useful. There's a reason the community 
has embraced and extended this elegant service. 
They love it, and they know the rest of the 
world loves it, too. 

Google offers the Gmail Notifier (google.com 
/downloads) to get alerts of new messages and 
preview email directly in the alerts window. 
There are other GMail tools at www.gmailtools 
.com , and you can try the third-party GM- 
Notifier ( g2007.com/GMNotifier) . There's also 
the unofficial Gmail Notifier extension (nex gen 
media.net/extensions) , which gives you a Gmail 
inbox notification icon in your Firefox toolbar 
and/or status bar. You can even skin Gmail in 
a Firefox style sheet ( persistent.info/archives 
/2004/10/05/gmaikkinning) . IE users might try 
the Gmail Image Viewer ( www.geocities.com 
/polynr/gmail ), which displays image attach- 
ments from Gmail messages inline. gCount, 
for Mac OS X, is for menu-based inbox status 
( www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~natan/gcount ), as is 
GmailStatus ( homepage.mac.com/carsten 
.guenther/GmailStatus) . 

Boy, if these URLs get any longer, you'll need 
to check yourself into a carpal tunnel clinic. To 
save some typing time, forego direct access and 
use your favorite search engine (Google?) to find 
the utility instead. There's a thought. 

I remember when 20MB of free Web-based 
storage was cool. Now, we have easy, free access 
to a gigabyte of storage sitting somewhere 
on Google's server. The Gmail Drive Shell 
Extension ( viksoe.dk/code/gmail.htm) will let 



you mount your account as a network drive in 
Windows Explorer! You can drag and drop files 
to/from it like they were sitting on your local 
system — an amazing, ingenious idea. Google 
hasn't squashed it yet, although it's likely to stop 
working properly if/when Google updates its 
service structure. The developer seems intent 
on keeping the project rolling forward, howev- 
er. There's also GmailFS for Linux ( richard 
.jones.name) , which provides similar ability, and 
a PHP script that further enables automated 
backups to your Gmail "virtual hard drive." 

When you click a link to an email address 
now, the mailto protocol typically pushes it 
to a registered mail client on your system. 
GMailto will redirect all such hyperlinks direct- 
ly to Gmail ( www.rabidsquirrel.net/G-Mailto) . 
I can't imagine wanting to redirect it to any 
other Web mail system, quite honestly. Unless 
you love pop-up windows, inelegant upsells, 
and untargeted marketing messages, there's 
really no reason to look beyond Gmail for now. 

The Gmail spam filter does an admirable 
job, but don't forego obfuscation of your email 
address on the Web. The E-mail Icon Gen- 
erator ( nhacks.com/email) works wonders. You 
should be doing something like this, anyway. I 
know a part of you hopes that one of those 
Nigerian banks is really going to offer you $27 
million one day, but. . . . 

Another feature that separates Gmail is its 
support for syndication. By now, you've likely 
got a news aggregator (to keep your favorite RSS 
feeds organized). Google backs Atom, which is 
RSS-like (and compatible with popular news 
readers). You can find your feed at gmail.google 
.com/gmail/feed/atom, and as long as you can 
use login credentials in your news-reading solu- 
tion, you can aggregate the latest Gmail message 
subject lines. You could also use gmailusername 
:password@gmail.google.com/gmail/feed/atom , 
but I don't recommend that, as it could poten- 
tially expose your login details to anybody who 
discovers that particular URL. Your choice. 

It's all about choice; nobody's telling you 
what to use or how to use it. Gmail is certainly a 
wonderful option, but I can't help but wonder 
when this fantastic ride will end. Google can't 
continue to pump out one great service after 
another forever. Or can it? A 



0< 



Chris Pirillo runs a million and one 
Web sites, including, but not neces- 
sarily limited to: Lockergnome.com, 
Gnomedex. com, Chris. Pirillo. com, 
TheChrisPirilloShow. com, 
GnomeDomains. com, 
RSSAuction.com, and 
RentMyChest.com. Recently, he 
moved to Seattle and is finding the 
Pacific Northwest the best place on 
the planet for geeks. His fiancee is 
getting used to the rain, and his two 
dogs (Wicket and Pixie) are current- 
ly busy learning PHP. That's Puppy 
Hovering Power, an art form few 
young canines have mastered. 
They're really quite adorable when 
they take flying leaps from the bed 
onto a pile of dirty clothes in the 
middle of the . . . sorry, that's proba- 
bly a little too personal for a byline. 

Now, we have 

easy, free 

access to a 

gigabyte of 

storage sitting 

somewhere on 

Google's server. 



You can dialogue with Chris at chris@cpumag.com. 



Open Sauce 



Microsoft Rocks! 



by Pete Loshin 






My favorite hardware company sells 
software and is based in Redmond. 

What? Something nice to say about Micro- 
soft? Yes. I needn't like or use Windows or 
Office or Outlook or Internet Exploder (er, 
Explorer) or any other of its proprietary offer- 
ings, but if you're looking to buy a quality 
ergonomic keyboard at the local big box or 
technology store, Microsoft is the only game 
in town. 

When repetitive strain injuries like carpal 
tunnel syndrome loom, you have to nip 
them in the bud with a properly adjusted 
chair, a keyboard tray to properly position 
your keyboard, a good mouse (I prefer track- 
balls), and an ergonomic keyboard. I went 
through it a few years ago, and rather than 
gamble on undoubtedly better but expensive 
mail-order keyboards, my choice at retail 
was between ultra-cheap no-names and 
Microsoft's Natural keyboards, with the 
Natural Keyboard Pro being the pick of the 
litter. (Avoid the cheesy, cheaper, but oddly 
laid out Natural Keyboard Elite at all costs.) 

The corded Microsoft keyboard I bought 
back then served me well and would still be 
on my desk if my son, Zoom (aka "The 
Terminator"), hadn't destroyed the & key 
one snowy afternoon. I'd hoped to use that 
keyboard until I retired, especially because I 
rarely see the wired Pro version in stores any- 
more. You have to have the ampersand, so I 
knew it was time to face my fear of wireless 
keyboards and find a Linux-compatible one. 

I scooped a Wireless Optical Desktop Pro 
package (including a mouse with Tilt Wheel 
technology for side-to-side scrolling) and rushed 
home to try it. The getting started booklet 
opened ominously: "Important! Install the Soft- 
ware." Then, I'd have to restart the computer "if 
prompted to do so" — twice, maybe, for a Mac. 
Only then, I was told, could I "Insert the batter- 
ies," plug it in, and test it out. 

I can hear you asking, "How can a Micro- 
soft wireless product possibly work with 
Linux?" The answer is, "Nanny nanny boo- 
boo. It works as well as the wired version, 
and maybe better." I plugged it in, and it 
worked. SUSE Linux even automatically and 
correctly auto-detected it. 



Granted, I can't use any of the "special" 
keys Microsoft grafts onto its keyboards, but 
it's easy enough to see what signals those 
keys emit when pressed (using the showkey - 
s command from a console session). Remap- 
ping them to do something useful within 
Linux would be more complicated, but it's 
not something I'm even remotely interested 
in spending time on because there are plenty 
of keys that actually do work. 

Linux rocks at automatic hardware detec- 
tion and installation. I've collected dozens 
of hardware driver CDs for everything from 
video and audio cards to hard drives to 
trackballs, joysticks, and yes, keyboards, and 
never once have I suffered from not being 
able to install the software. It all works just 
great, and I don't even have to restart the 
system to get things going. 

Maybe I don't upgrade or change hard- 
ware on my system every day or even every 
week, but I do it often enough for me to be 
really happy about it all happening automati- 
cally, quickly, and correctly, without annoy- 
ing system restarts. 

Why don't hardware manufacturers 
include Linux software with their products? 
Sometimes they do, but they usually get it 
wrong one way or another — for example, by 
making their drivers binary-only, closed- 
source affairs, or by not making the drivers 
portable across CPU platforms. Invariably, 
the vendors just aren't as good or as fast at 
writing reliable drivers as the open-source 
community. For a great discussion of hard- 
ware and other Linux issues, check out *nix 
guru Rick Moen's pages ( www.linuxmafia 
.com/~rick/faq ). 

As for keyboards, I'm sure there are better 
ones than Microsoft's, but they can't seem 
to get their products into the retail channel. 
I'm not going to gamble $300 on a keyboard 
that I can't touch before I buy it, no matter 
how much it promises to change my life. 

Microsoft delivers a quality product into 
half a dozen different major retailers within 
a five-mile radius of my home, and I am de- 
lighted to use the company's ergonomically 
correct keyboard. A 



*• 



w*7 



Baffle me with your Linux boo-boos at pete@cpumag.com, 

and I'll try to make them better. 



Pete Loshin, former 

technical editor of 

software reviews for Byte 

Magazine (print version), 

consults and writes about 

computing and the 

Internet. He also runs 

www. I'm uxcookbook. com . 

He owns shares of both 

Microsoft and Red Hat 

and believes that Windows 

isn 'tfor everyone, 

but neither is Linux. 



... I knew it 
was time to 
face my fear 
of wireless 
keyboards 
and find a 
Linux-com- 
patible one. 



84 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



CAUGHT |_N T H E WEB 



Legal P2P The 




Can File Swapping Go Straight? 



Way 



Music piracy has had its way on 
the rough seas of P2P file- 
swapping networks for so 
long, it's hard to believe that P2P could 
become the next big venue for legal music 
sales. By the time you read this, however, 
Mashboxx ( www.mashboxx.com) intends 
to launch a novel take on file swapping 
designed to appeal to the very music indus- 
try that considers P2P its main enemy. "It 
is truly the first legal peer-to-peer network," 
says Wayne Rosso, CEO of Mashboxx. 

Try A Big Sample 

Mashboxx will be a downloadable P2P 
client much like Kazaa or Lime Wire, and it 
too will plug into open-source file sharing 
networks such as Gnutella and eDonkey. 
"It is similar to LimeWire, and what we're 
really going for is that Mac look and feel," 
says Rosso. In fact, Rosso is trying to keep 
it legal while retaining that edgy feel of file 
swapping culture. Mashboxx won't act as a 
filter because it lets users see all the same 
files on other people's computers that 
familiar P2P clients do. 

The difference comes when you try to 
download a music track from the network 
that a record company has registered as 
copyrighted material. At this point, 
Mashboxx replaces the pirated music file 
with what it calls a "Sampler Title," a ver- 
sion of the track that's altered in some 
way by Mashboxx and the record compa- 
ny until the user pays for it. 

The Sampler Title is unique because it 
includes the entire song. The sampler plays 
with Mashboxx software only, and the 
record companies tell Mashboxx how they 
want the sample "compromised" until the 
listener actually purchases the track. "It 
allows a low-fidelity file to be embedded in 
the high-fidelity file," says Rosso. In fact, 
the sampler file is the actual, legitimate 
music file, but it might run at a low bit rate 
or have a radio-like voice-over. When you 
purchase the title, Mashboxx issues a license 



License sent to Browser 
for registered content "* s 



Browser monitors titles in 
the resident share folder 



<•> H 



Browser 
identifies titles — 




The Mashboxx 
browser interacts 
with a music 
licensing database 
run by Snocap in 
order to identify 
copyrighted music 
in the "share 
folder" that a user 
exposes to a P2P 
network. 



Content ID sent to 
Snocap database 



Registered content cannot be 
shared on Mashboxx network 



that unlocks the full version of the tune so 
you can play it outside of Mashboxx, burn it 
to a CD, or transfer it to a digital music 
player. Mashboxx will use the .WMV file 
format for Windows Media Player, and 
purchased tracks will still carry WMP DRM 
protection. Although Rosso dislikes the 
inconvenience of DRM solutions, he admits 
that, for now, DRM wrappers are necessary 
because record companies insist on it. 

Mashboxx says that its scheme makes 
P2P legal but preserves the fun. "Sampler 
files represent a well-conceived compro- 
mise," says Steve Taylor, VP of product 
development at Mashboxx and the chief 
engineer of the client software. "It's the 
whole song in a compromised form. It is a 
way to discover new artists, which is one 
of the things people use P2P for." 

In fact, Taylor and Rosso insist that 
rights holders won't claim the majority of 
music files on the P2P networks as pro- 
tected material. "There are many estimates 
that there are 20 million to 25 million 
titles [on the P2P networks]," says Taylor. 
"Maybe 10% to 12% will ultimately be 
claimed by rights holders. At the high end 
you might have 3 million controlled titles 
and something like 22 million that are 
either in public domain or new music or 
artists that want to be traded." When a 



Mashboxx user finds unclaimed titles on 
the network, the client software will 
download it just like any other P2P client. 

P2P Gets A License 

But how will Mashboxx recognize when 
a file on the P2P network is protected 
material? Mashboxx will use Napster 
founder Shawn Fanning's new Snocap 
( www.snocap.com) licensing service, which 
uses technology to scan the P2P networks 
and detect a copyrighted music file. 



SNOCAP 




sensing 

through authi and online retailers, 

Record Label; and Artists 

' ■: ■ ■ 

.:. • •;.:-:; : • 

Online Retailers and File Sharing Networks 

live, remixed a it tracks. ■+ 

Music Lovers 





Snocap uses sonic scanning technologies to 
determine what song is in a music file and 
whether it is copyrighted. 



CPU /May 2005 85 



CAUGHT |_N T H E WEB 



Snocap uses acoustical "finger- 
printing" to detect copyrighted 
material. Publishers that agree to this 
scheme will give Snocap copies of 
their copyrighted music to compare 
against tracks on the P2P networks. 
"The fingerprinting is derived by 
taking an acoustical signal processing 
algorithm on the spectrum of the 
contents," says Taylor. "It is ID-ing 
on the sounds in the file, not the 
filename." Because many music files 
on P2P networks are misnamed, the 
Snocap scan ignores the filename 
and metadata tags users put into 
music files. There is nothing revolu- 
tionary about this approach, Taylor 
says. "In the signal processing world 
we have been identifying anony- — 
mous files by this technique for 40 years." 

Snocap is a music licensing infrastruc- 
ture that will serve a number of compa- 
nies that, like Mashboxx, will come up 
with their own software clients and busi- 
ness models for selling the licensed titles. 
In order for this paid P2P system to work, 
Mashboxx performs a complex exchange 
of information among its own servers, the 
Snocap database, and the user's Mash- 
boxx client software whenever a customer 
tries to trade copyrighted material. For 
instance, whenever a Mashboxx customer 
puts a music file into his shared folder 
and makes it available on the P2P net- 
work, the client software interacts with 
Snocap's database to scan the music and 
determine which material is regis- 
tered as protected music. 

If a track in your shared folder is 
fingerprinted as registered to a pub- 
lisher, then Mashboxx sends your 
client software a "certificate" that 
governs how this track is sent out 
both to other Mashboxx users and 
to non-Mashboxx P2P clients. If the 
certificate allows free sharing of the 
file (or if the file is not registered by 
a publisher), then your Mashboxx 
software will let the file pass over 
the P2P network to the requesting 
client. On the other hand, if the 
certificate restricts use or distribu- 
tion of that music file, then the per- 
son who is trying to download that 



0^ Home 'J Search P2P Q Search Web 



Preferences About Help 



Sony Music USA 



Artists Shop Community Release Schedule Audio/Video Cool Stuff Mobile Win Appear. 




The Mashboxx client software aims to be a full entertainment 
application that promotes the latest music news and lets 
users customize the experience by subscribing to news 
and updates by genre and artist. 



Snocap database, and Sony is close 
to agreement. Mashboxx and Sno- 
cap are turning the tables by putting 
the responsibility on the record 
labels to identify the music in their 
catalogs they want protected and 
take part in a technology that actu- 
ally lets people swap files. "The 
scheme doesn't apply to all con- 
tent," says Rosso. "It only applies to 
[content from] copyright owners 
who register their content." If a 
publisher doesn't register content 
with Snocap, then the Mashboxx 
client will distribute or download it 
without restriction. 

P2P Pull Back? 



file from your shared folder is redirected 
to a "seeding server" that will download a 
sampler version instead. 

Another Mashboxx user will be able to 
play the downloaded sampler file at a low- 
er bit rate or with voice-overs. If a non- 
Mashboxx user downloads a sampler file, 
however, it will only look like a standard 
WMV file. When the user tries to play the 
sampler with standard media player soft- 
ware, he will get an ad that suggests he use 
Mashboxx's software to play the sample or 
purchase the full-quality track. 

The Snocap/Mashboxx system only 
works if the music industry buys in and 
submits its licensed music for protection. 
Universal has agreed to be part of the 



^ Home ^J Search P2P Q Search Web 




Preferences About Help 


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Ready 



In this unreleased beta version of Mashboxx, the software 
looks, feels, and acts like typical P2P programs except that 
users download fully licensed "sampler" versions of a music 
track until they pay for it. 



— Like many Web projects before it, 

Mashboxx is remarkable technology driving 
a risky business model. First, there will be 
competition from different pay P2P 
schemes such as iMesh ( www.imesh.com) 
and Peerlmpact ( www.peerimpact.com ). 
But most of all there are the existing music 
subscription services, which already make 
licensed music available for people who 
want legit tracks. Rosso and Taylor insist 
that Mashboxx preserves the P2P experi- 
ence and rich title choice in ways iTunes 
and Napster don't. 

Shortly after release, the Mashboxx 
software will incorporate "topics" of con- 
tent, which will be channels of news, RSS 
headlines, merchandise, and sample tracks 
dedicated to specific artists or musical 
tastes. Users will choose from pre- 
fabricated channels, create their 
own, and even swap topics with 
other Mashboxx users. Every time 
the client software starts, it will pop- 
ulate the user's topic with the latest 
information available online. 

The biggest resistance to the Sno- 
cap/Mashboxx plan is coming from 
the traditional P2P space. Com- 
panies such as Kazaa and BearShare 
may not welcome technology that 
some say jeopardizes the protection 
they now enjoy from prosecution by 
the film and movie industries. 
Recent court decisions have agreed 
that P2P software makers cannot be 
held liable for illegal file trading. 



86 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



CAUGHT |_N T H E WEB 




QfrA 



Wayne Rosso: P2P Answers The P2P Problem 



ashboxx CEO Wayne Rosso is not shy. But 
I at the same time, Rosso is eager to turn 
his critical eye on the P2P world that has also 
been his home. 

CPU: With iTunes and Napster offering 
inexpensive licensed content, why would we 
want to muck about with a P2P client that 
also makes us pay? 

Rosso: With a peer-to-peer application you 
have an entire universe of content not simply 
confined to music. And then within that world of 
audio you are not confined to a crappy little mil- 
lion records. Frankly, peer-to-peer is about 
search and a community. These are concepts 
that are alien to the content world. 

CPU: Will you try to undercut iTunes and 
Napster on price? 

Rosso: There's no room to undercut them. I 
would if I could, but no one gets rich on 99-cent 
sales. I am lucky if I can walk away with 5% or 
6% on the sale of a 99-cent single. You up your 
margins when people buy multiple tracks. 
[Record companies] collect 70 cents a single, 
and they are trying to up that right now. P2P 



makes its money off of traffic, just like Yahoo! 
does. It's a concept the entertainment industry is 
unaware of. They think in units. 

CPU: Does the P2P industry have a future 
if it continues to fight the RIAA and allow 
illegal file swapping on its networks? 

Rosso: It's got no future. Somehow, some 
way, the content owners will win. If not in the 
Supreme Court, they will win on Capitol Hill. They 
will win in the World Trade Organization. There 
are so many different ways they will win. With 
that sort of force against you, you will not build 
successful businesses. Who will invest in you? 

CPU: Many P2P companies and some vocal 
users are reticent to associate with Snocap and 
Mashboxx. Does this technology validate the 
RIAA legal argument that P2P networks can 
indeed stop illegal file swapping if they like? 

Rosso: At this point it is true, but it wasn't when 
they [RIAA] started [the lawsuits]. Then again, we 
don't know how true it is because it hasn't been 
done yet. Snocap hasn't launched yet, so I can't 
tell you that it does or it doesn't. Hopefully, we'll 
know by the time this article sees print. ▲ 



The pirated files exist on millions of per- 
sonal computers, not a central server 
owned by the P2P companies. Moreover, 
the companies often claim that they have 
no reliable way of knowing what files on 
the P2P network are copyrighted. 
Because Snocap and Mashboxx's technol- 
ogy shows that file swapping client soft- 
ware can detect proprietary material on 
the network and force payment for it, the 
P2P industry could lose one leg of its 
legal defense. Adam Eisgrau, executive 
director of P2P United, stated publicly 
that the alliance's members won't cooper- 
ate with Snocap. "What's been suggested 
is that every file transfer must first pass 
through their database," a system he calls 
"preposterous." 

That's OK with Rosso. Traffic statis- 
tics show that P2P networks have been 
declining since the RIAA started suing 
ordinary citizens for illegal file swapping. 
"I have no problem competing with 
free," he says. Hard-core traders will stick 
with piracy, but casual downloaders will 



embrace this legal alternative. "Anyone 
who uses Mashboxx is basically immune 
from RIAA lawsuits," Rosso claims. 

Well, maybe. How many music pub- 
lishers decide to take part in this system 
is an open question, especially given the 
music industry's longstanding distrust of 
the file swapping model. And then there 
are the swappers themselves, many of 
whom have been vocal in their distrust 
of the Snocap/Mashboxx model and 
how it might affect their P2P networks. 
Many bloggers in the P2P world contin- 
ue to accuse the Snocap/Mashboxx 
scheme of undermining the principles of 
open file sharing and perhaps even jeop- 
ardizing its legal standing. "They will 
never use our product and will always 
hate it." Gee, with so much distrust and 
vitriol surrounding its launch, Mash- 
boxx will have to wait anxiously to see if 
there are consumers out there willing to 
give it a little love. CPU 

by Steve Smith 




Infinite L 



Aging Bones 

Bone scanning 
has taken on 
new significance 
now that Israeli 
inventor Shmuel Levin 
has devised a way to 
estimate age based 
on middle finger length. After a person 
places his finger in the l-Mature's device, 
the system gives off a low-frequency 
ultrasound and measures the echoes 
through the finger. I-Mature then draws a 
digital picture of the finger and links to a 
computer that figures the person's age. 
Levin hopes his invention will be used in 
products to prevent children from ac- 
cessing inappropriate Web sites. ▲ 

Source: www.boston.com 




CPU /May 2005 87 



Department Of Stuff 



cables.txt 



by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda 



The trusty old VGA cable has been with 
us a long time. So has that ancient yel- 
low composite cable you have used to con- 
nect your tired old TV to that VCR you've 
owned since the early '90s. Advancements in 
computer video and your TV have finally 
converged, but it means more than just a 
digital signal path from source to display. 

Most video cards and monitors now come 
with a new standard plug called DVI. The 
DVI cable is supposed to be the future of 
digital video cabling. It contains pins for 
analog signals to maintain compatibility 
with older devices. But its real strength is in 
its ability to maintain a perfect digital signal 
along the entire path. 

For computer users this has never been 
much of a concern, but spend some quality 
time Googling for television video cables. 
Check out the insane prices associated with 
longer runs of cable. Pretty much any piece 
of equipment sold in the past three or so 
years included component video cables — 
those fancy cables with the three plugs. 

Now there's something to be said about 
expensive cables. Good shielding, especially 
over a long cable run — like from your DVD 
player to an overhead projector — is highly 
prone to signal degradation. Of course, 
there's crazy stuff, too, like Teflon coating 
and gold interconnects, and I don't mean to 
disparage them. If you want to spend that 
kind of money on cables you can, but DVI 
cables render all that irrelevant: A digital sig- 
nal goes from your source to your display 
device. The pixels either get there or they 
don't. There's no such thing as degradation. 

Most new projectors and higher-end TVs 
include DVI cables, as do most modern 
computers. The even more cutting-edge 
devices include HDMI, which essentially 
wraps a DVI cable up with a digital audio 
cable, rendering your optical or coaxial digi- 
tal cables irrelevant. Your TiVo could hook 
up to your receiver with one single cable. Or 
at least it will once receivers using these new 
cables become more common. 

So the upsides are very compelling: 
Simpler cabling means less confusion and 



cost. The snarls behind your stereo might 
become a single cable. This is very similar 
to what USB has done for the PC. Five 
years ago a PC would require a PS/2 key- 
board and mouse port, USB, and serial port. 
Today most PC users need just USB for all 
that mess. Your computer display and your 
home theater display become interchange- 
able. Video and audio unify into a single 
simple cable; and everyone wins. 

Or do they? HDCP is the scary part of 
the new HDMI standard. HDCP means 
copy protection — it means that the digital 
signal between source material and display 
device will be encrypted and decrypted only 
by approved devices. 

Now remember that good old-fashioned 
yellow composite video cable connecting 
your 10-year-old TV and VCR? That won't 
be possible any more. The entertainment 
industry, desperate to protect its material 
from pirates, wants to take away your ability 
to record contents. 

What about multizoned setups where two 
or more displays want to display signals from 
a single source device? What about the abili- 
ty to record your TV shows to tape (or 
DVD or hard drive)? Proponents of the 
standard say that this will all still be possible, 
provided you are willing to settle for NTSC 
resolutions; but it's 2005, and I think we're 
all ready for HD signals. 

You couple this with the broadcast flag 
being pushed hard by the entertainment 
industry, and it's easy to see where we're 
going. Even the lowly PVR will lose func- 
tionality. Already some markets have tested 
PVRs that don't allow users to fast forward 
during certain programs. It's a scary future 
and only serves as further proof that the 
entertainment industry is not willing to 
change to meet the demands of its audience, 
but rather it will try to criminalize people 
who don't want to play by its rules. 

Suddenly that crappy yellow cable and 
grainy signal doesn't seem so bad. A 



Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda 

is the creator and 

director of the popular News 

for Nerds Web site 

Slashdot.org. He spends 

his time fiddling 

with electronic gizmos, 

wandering the Net, 

watching anime, 

and trying to think of 

clever lies to put in 

his bio so that he seems 

cooler than he actually is. 



Your computer 

display and your 

home theater 

display become 

interchangeable. 

Video and audio 

unify into a single 

simple cable; 

and everyone 

wins. 



Email me. I dare you. You know you want to. It's malda@cpumag.com 



88 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



Forward Slash 



The Moving Platform 



by Joan Wood 



Some technology we cover here at CPU Is 
so sexy it sells itself. A super-fast CPU 
and bonking gorgeous graphics technology 
don't need a lot of help because the messages 
(and bragging rights) are clean and clear — 
generally along the lines of "faster is better." 
In most situations, faster is better, but in- 
creasingly, better isn 't necessarily faster. As 
machines become more capable, the I/O bot- 
tleneck has become much more noticeable. 

For many years now, close proximity to 
software development (and hardware test- 
ing) has allowed me the luxury of using 
top-of-the-line, feature-rich, wicked-fast 
technology in my work machines. Generally 
speaking, whatever I happen to be doing 
barrels along at top speed, right up to the 
point it hits the network and interacts with 
a server. Then we travel at whatever lei- 
surely pace the gods of network traffic have 
decreed for the day. Obviously, data retrieval 
speeds have not kept pace with the rest of 
system innovation, and the folks over at 
Intel have plunked down more than a few 
nickels from their R&D war chest to figure 
out why, but the answers were not what they 
originally expected. 

Specialized co-processors are a well worn 
path to increased efficiency for many compu- 
tational tasks — 3D graphics work "offloaded" 
from the CPU to specialized graphics hard- 
ware accelerators being a widely adopted, rec- 
ognizable example — and Intel was well down 
the network I/O bottleneck path with that 
approach when in-depth trace analysis 
revealed that the packet processing latency 
issues weren't where everyone thought they 
would be. Instead of IP packet header process- 
ing being the big problem, actual data move- 
ment within memory and between system 
memory and the NIC buffers was causing the 
worst latencies. Basically, if the problem area 
wasn't already being handled by the CPU, 
offloading it to another processor wasn't really 
going to fix it. In fact, there wasn't a simple, 
one-stop fix. 

So, why does this matter to you? Because 
the solution that Intel is pursuing, dubbed 
Input/Output Acceleration Technology or 
I/OAT, impacts the whole server, and that 



platform approach signals changes to every- 
thing from the OS to device software inter- 
faces, hitting major components like the 
CPU, chipset, and LAN along the way. 
Intel's first target was an overhaul of the 
1970s-era TCP/IP protocol stack. The new 
stack, optimized for modern architecture, is 
a core feature of I/OAT. 

Now, Intel is not the first to push for I/O 
improvements. NVIDIA has been tinkering 
with their consumer platform to get full use 
of GbE since it was introduced, making that 
feature more than just a snazzy checkbox 
item. In fact, the nForce folks have been pas- 
sionately plugging away for the past several 
years, slowly making "platform" into a com- 
pelling concept. Undeterred by the market 
limitations of an AMD-only product line, 
they have been thinking about and innovat- 
ing platform development from the user's 
perspective, and enthusiasts have benefited 
from their activities. The addition of the P4 
bus license spreads that joy to Intel CPU 
customers, as well. 

NVIDIA's ActiveArmor/TOE (TCP/IP 
offload engine) uses a different approach from 
Intel's I/OAT, but by combining firewall 
security requirements with improvements in 
packet processing, NVIDIA is able to deliver a 
compelling solution to the desktop on multi- 
ple fronts, and they are doing it today. Intel's 
solution is not yet scheduled for server prime 
time and Microsoft has committed to sup- 
porting I/OAT natively in a future release of 
the Windows Server OS. 

In addition to the protocol optimization, 
which Intel says reduces protocol processing 
by nearly 50%, header splitting, interrupt 
modulation, and asynchronous low-cost 
copy (aka DMA) are being employed to fur- 
ther reduce latency and take full advantage 
of the enormous innovations that have 
transpired since TCP/IP was introduced. 
Overall Intel believes this platform-wide 
approach can improve packet delivery to and 
from server applications by 30 to 50% and 
may ultimately increase it tenfold. It may 
not be sexy, but that sure would make a 
big difference when you're out cruising the 
old superhighway. A 




As founder and president of 
indy game developer Mango 
Grits, she talked 3Dfic out of 
prerelease Voodoo hardware to 
develop flying game Barrage for 
Activision then co founded and 
ran hardware review site 
SharkyExtreme.com as manag- 
ing editor. She currently plays 
with small, wearable PCs and 
big, rack-mount visual simula- 
tion image generators for 
Quantum3D while secretly 
plotting to save the world 
through a series of internation- 
al location-aware multiplayer 
handheld games. 



Intel's first 
target was an 
overhaul of the 
1970s-era 
TCP/IP 
protocol stack. 



Stackjoan@cpumag.com 



DIGITAL LIVING 



ROAD 




amor 



by Jen Edwards 




Mobile Phone House Calls, CommWarrior.a Spreads, 
The End Of The CLE, The New Walkman 
& More From The Mobile Front 



Sony Pulls CLE In Japan, 
Launches New Walkman Phone 

he Sony CLIE line of Palm OS handhelds will no longer be sold in 
Japan as of July. This follows a similar announcement last summer 
when Sony pulled the CLIE out of U.S. and European PDA markets. 
The company hasn't completely ruled out a future return with a 
> A different PDA product, but most analysts 
suspect Sony will focus on the PSP and 
its smartphone partnership with Ericsson. 
Sony started making Palm OS handhelds 
in 2000, providing fierce competition in the 
market with its cutting-edge designs and 
being a major force behind many multime- 
dia improvements to Palm OS devices, such 
as MP3 and video playback, integrated Wi- 
Fi, keyboards for text entry, and the virtual 
Graffiti area to help view information on a PDA's entire screen. Sony's 
retreat from the Japanese market leaves Microsoft's Windows Mobile 
handhelds and Sharp's Linux-based Zaurus as the chief competitors in 
the Japanese market. 

In other Sony news, the company has announced the Sony Ericsson 
W800, a combination mobile phone and Walkman device. The phone 
will come with a stereo headphone set and play MP3 and AAC music. 
A bundled 512MB Memory Stick Duo expansion card will hold about 
10 to 12 CDs' worth of music, and Disk2Phone software will be includ- 
ed to transfer music from CD format to the phone's memory card. The 
phone will be able to stop the music when an incoming call is received 
and is expected to have an impressive 30 hours of playback time (with 
the phone off). 

The W800 will feature a relatively large color screen, FM radio capa- 
bilities, and a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus and video-capture 
capabilities. Available accessories include an MMC-60 cable to connect 
the phone to home stereo equipment, as well as the HCA-60 Advanced 
Car Handsfree set that lets the phone connect to a car stereo system for 
enhanced sound quality during playback. The phone is expected for 



Don't expect to see any 
more Sony CLIE PDAs 
after July. Sony has 
ended the line. 



release in Q3 this year. 



The new Sony W800 looks as if it will do 
the Walkman line proud. 




90 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



DIGITAL LIVING 



pictues 




*1 





OurPictures To Unleash "Trapped" Photos 

OurPictures recently announced its new OurPictures Mobile service, which is designed 
to make it easier for camera phone users to access their photos. The increasing preva- 
lence of camera phones means users can now capture photos that they would have typically 
missed, but accessing those photos can be difficult for some users. OurPictures Mobile lets 
you send your images to an OurPictures application on the desktop computer where you 
can do photo editing and instantly share the photos. You can also configure the software to 
send snapshots to a participating neighborhood retailer for prints. 

OurPictures Mobile, available as part of OurPictures Deluxe Edition ($2.99 a month), 
works with any camera phone, no matter the carrier. If you have a Siemens SX1 or 
Symbian-based camera phone, including various Nokia models, you can set up the service 
to automatically send any picture you take to your computer. This should be a boon to the 
ever-expanding camera phone market (worldwide camera phone sales for 2004 were 178 
million units, according to InfoTrends), as many phones still don't have Bluetooth connec- 
tivity or expansion slots for memory cards. A 

Don't Use Your BlackBerry In Parliament 

If you do, you're subject to removal from the area, according to Michael Martin, the 
speaker of the House of Commons. It seems some Parliament members had been 
using BlackBerry devices to communicate with the outside world during legislative pro- 
ceedings, including Alastair Campbell, former press secretary to Prime Minister Tony 
Blair, who mistakenly sent a message filled with profanities to a BBC news program. 

The latest announcement in February was part of a series of directives limiting the 

type and use of electronic devices, such as handheld PDAs, mobile phones, and the 

like. Mobile phones must be switched to silent mode, and any member whose device 

interrupts the proceedings is subject to discipline. 

Members can still use PDAs and mobile phones if they're silent and the devices aren't connected to the outside world. Martin 

also stated that devices shouldn't be used as reference devices or "electronic prompters" for members actively involved in debate or 

any other proceeding. Of course, electronic devices do much more than serve as address books and calendars. A legislator in 

Norway was condemned for playing games on his handheld during a legislative session. A 



Mobile Phones Make House Calls, Also Spread Viruses 



Researchers in Geneva, 
Switzerland, recently ex- 
plored a potential new use for 
camera phones: assisting in 
house calls for medical patients 
in remote areas who can't eas- 
ily see a doctor. The University 
Hospital of Geneva conducted a 
study involving 52 patients with 
leg ulcers, with two groups of 
doctors comparing the diagnos- 
tic results. One group physically 
examined the patients, while the 
other group looked at only pho- 
tos of the patients taken with 
a camera phone. Agreement be- 
tween the groups regarding 
diagnosis and treatment was sur- 
prisingly high, in several cases 



reaching 0.94 (on a scale of 
to 1; being no agreement, 1 
being total agreement). 

Researchers speculate camera 
phones may make it possible for 
visiting nurses or other health- 
care professionals to send photos 
of patients in remote areas to get 
a doctor's care without having 
to actually travel to a hospital or 
clinic. Such a system could save 
time and money. This "telemed- 
icine" would be ideal for those 
who suffer from chronic condi- 
tions, although it seems likely 
that the uses could be widened 
based on improvements in cam- 
era phone technology. Some- 
thing similar is happening in 



regard to more basic health- 
related areas. For example, some 
U.S. insurance companies are 
reimbursing doctors for time 
spent answering patients' emails. 
Unfortunately, cell phones 
are also starting to experience 
the same type of virus problems 
that already plague PCs. Cabir 
recently became the first cell 
phone virus able to spread via 
Bluetooth connections. It spread 
rather slowly, reaching about 1 5 
countries in six months. The lat- 
est threat is CommWarrior.a, a 
virus that spreads via MMS on 
Series 60 phones running Sym- 
bian software. Specifically, the 
virus spreads via Bluetooth and 



by sending MMS messages with 
photos and sound files to every 
contact in a phone's address 
book. Eventually the phone's 
battery drains. An executive at 
antivirus research firm F-Secure 
speculates the virus was devel- 
oped in Russia. 

Like many email viruses, if a 
user doesn't click and download 
the infected message, Comm- 
Warrior.a will not infect the 
phone or subsequently spread to 
other phones. It has also been 
suggested that phone carriers 
could help to halt the spread of 
the virus by scanning their net- 
works to prevent malicious files 
from propagating. A 



CPU /May 2005 91 



DIGITAL LIVING 



Compiled by 
Samit G. Choudhuri & Chris Trumble 



, At Your 

Leisure 



The entertainment world, at least where it pertains to technology, morphs, 
twists, turns, and fires so fast it's hard to keep up. But that's exactly why we 
love it. For the lowdown on the latest in PC entertainment, DVDs, consoles, 
and just stuff we love and recommend, read on. 



A/V Corner 



Movies by Samit & Music by Blaine 




$29.95 
Disney 
www.theincredibles.com 



The Incredibles (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) 

Director Brad Bird brings his expertise to play in Pixar's sixth 
film. We get a family drama that's all at once warm, insightful, 
ironic, exciting, edgy, humorous, and enjoyable. The Parr fam- 
ily seems to be like any other family, but 1 5 years prior, Mom 
and Dad were superheroes. They gave up the adulations, tight- 
fitting costumes, adrenalin, and use of superhero powers to 
raise a family. It's tough raising a family and harder yet when 
you hide your powers but pass along your super genes to the 
kids. This is fun, friendly entertainment for all ages. 




$99.98 

(According to HBO's site) 

Home Box Office 
www.hbo.com/deadwood 



Deadwood: The Complete First Season 

"Deadwood" is yet another top-rated show from HBO. The 
setting is 1876, just two weeks after Custer's last stand. People 
are making a gold-rush beeline for Deadwood, S.D. The 
"town" is in Indian territory with some of the most complex 
characters we've ever seen in a Western. David Milch fuses a 
true foundation on real Wild West history with superbly 
scripted fiction to give "Deadwood" some real depth. Unlike 
most Westerns, these 12 episodes give an unwavering insight 
into what happens to the folks when the atypical movie gun- 
slinger hero rides out of town. 




$10 

Real World Records 

www.blindboys.com 



The Blind Boys Of Alabama -"Atom Bomb" 

Dating back to 1939, the Blind Boys Of Alabama have 
been one of music's best-kept secrets for decades. Mixing 
stirring gospel vocals with an authenticity gained through 
endurance, the group branches out a bit on "Atom Bomb," 
covering Norman Greenbaum's classic "Spirit In The Sky" 
and Fatboy Slim and Macy Gray's "Demons." But it's the 
BBOA's gospel-soaked gems that will convert you. 



Kaiser Chiefs— "Employment" 

Miss the Sex Pistols? Been yearning for a new Clash? 
Craving The Buzzcocks, The Jam, or Adam and The Ants? 
Rest easy. The Kaiser Chiefs are here to fill the void. You've 
probably already been bopping your head to the single "I 
Predict A Riot" and didn't know it. If not, you will soon. 
The mates from Leeds, England, are invading the States 
and American radio, and you'll want to join the fight. 




$10 

Universal Records 

www.kaiserchiefs.net 



DVD Byte 

by Todd Doogan 





It's April and DVD is out like a lamb and 
in like a lion. A couple of big titles start 
the month off right with both Elektra 
and Spanglish seeing 
release on the 5th. 
Look for indie cult fave 
Primer, TV cult faves 
Greatest American 
Hero Season Two and 
West Wing: The 
Complete Fourth 
Season, as well as a 
collected box of The 
Amityville Horror in time for the 
remake. On the 12th, make room for 
Ocean's Twelve and Seed Of Chucky 
on your shelves. While you're at it, pick 
up the always funny Harvey Birdman 
Attorney at Law: Vol. 1, Sledge 
Hammer! Season Two, and Space 
Ghost Coast To Coast: Volume Three. 
April 19th brings the classic TV show 
Dynasty: The Complete First Season 
to our homes along with the Japanese 
samurai series Hanzo: The Razor and 
the stellar House Of Flying Daggers. If 
that's not enough, 
Vin Diesel shows us 
why he was the 
original X in XXX: 
The Director's Cut. 
The month closes 
with Sean Penn in 
The Assassination 
Of Richard Nixon; 
the end of a trilogy 
with Blade: Trinity; 
a sorry excuse for a horror film: 
Darkness; and just because I thought 
the first one was brilliant, pick up 
National Lampoon's Lost Reality 2. 1 
haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's funny. 




See the full reviews from A/V Corner at www.cpumag.com/cpumay05/AYL 



92 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 





TOMMORROWb WAR HAS BEGIN 



Act Of War will look familiar to anyone who re- 
members playing Command & Conquer Generals (reviewed May 2003) because it fea- 
tures an improved version of the same game engine. Mind you, the game looks better than it 
did back then, and it should also be noted that the same game engine was put to good work in Lord 
Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth (reviewed Feb. 2005). Best-selling author Dale Brown has 
penned a storyline that might not make a great film but works adequately for the game's storyline 
with the typical terrorist-based plot. Fortunately, the storyline isn't why you'll buy this game. 

Gameplay is your standard old-school RTS, but it does break new ground in resource gathering. 
You can gain funds by building an oil derrick/refinery, capturing banks, or capturing live enemy 
troops. Part of the strategy requires that you protect your resources and build containment for enemy 

troops. You don't have to spend a lot of time managing peons 
to gather resources. Be patient if the game feels a wee bit too 
derivative when you start out because it gets far more interest- 
ing a few missions in when you come across SHIELD (Super 
High Infantry Electronic Defensive system) units. 

The effects look good, but it's the sheer amount of detail in 
the environments and units that really captured our fancy. It's 
hard to not be impressed the first time you push through a 
massive crowd of people in a big city. Now mix in a true sense 
of pleasure as you battle your way through the 33 chapters and 
you end up with something quite special — an RTS that feels 
fresh to even veteran gamers. A 





www.atari.com/actofwar 



•••••••*••••••••••••••••••*•*•***•••••*•*••*•••••••• 



••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••^ 



Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich 

Classic Tights & Charming Fights 



$39.99 (PC) *ESRB:(T)een 



VU Games 
www.freedomfans.com/ffvttr 



It was love at first play when we got our hands 
on Freedom Force in early 2002. So it was 
with understandably sweaty excitement that we 
installed this strategic superhero RPG cum 
action-adventure sequel, which was once more 
developed by Irrational Games. Seemingly, the 
past three years had done little to dilute our 
enthusiasm for this quite unhyped masterpiece. 

The gameplay really hasn't changed much 
from the strategic squad- 
based core of 
the original, * 




which is a testament to how well the game 
worked the first time. What you get this time 
around is a new and superbly written story that 
takes off immediately after the first game in the 
early 1960s. You still control four superheroes in 
tactical combat against villains, and your heroes 
will automatically defend themselves without 
input from you. Because of certain plot ele- 
ments, you end up going back to 1942 to fight 
the Nazis. Bashing on Nazis with superhero 
powers is a joy in and of itself, but you'll have to 
play the game to get the plot details. 

The set design, environments, character 
models, textures, voice acting, and audio effects 
are packaged together as one superb game. 
Freedom Force vs. The Third Reich loses a few 
points for originality, but truth be told, we 
didn't find any aspect of the sequel tiresome or 
boring, even though the tried-and-true game- 
play is no longer revolutionary. 



9 




J 




' ekken 5 takes Namco's superb fighting 
game series back to its roots a bit, undo- 
ing some of the changes in Tekken 4 (change- 
of-position moves and uneven floors) and 
delivering faster, tighter gameplay. Each of the 
more than 30 playable characters has a gener- 
ous selection of moves, and once again a select 
few characters can perform reversals or exe- 
cute multiple linked throws. In other words, 
players willing to put some time in can build 
up an astonishing arsenal of attacks and com- 
bos. As deep as Tekken 5 can be, though, it is 
still nicelv accessible for novices, thanks to its 



$49.99 (PS2)«ESRB:(T)een 



progress at their own pace. 



tekken5.namco.com 



The story once again revolves 
around the supremely dysfunctional 
Mishima family, whose financial 
empire (Mishima Zaibatsu) hosts the 
world's greatest fighting tournament. As the 
*ame begins, a gorgeously rendered movie clip 
shows family patriarch Heihachi getting 
blown up, but the Mishima Zaibatsu once 
again summons fighters from around the 
world to compete for the title of King of Iron 
Fist, which means that someone is still run- 
ning the show. But who? 

Tekken 5 looks incredible; its character 
models are crisp, smooth, and lifelike, and its 
stages and the movies and art that tell each 
character's story are creative and well crafted. 
Namco provides enough gameplay modes and 
options to keep Tekken 5 interesting for a 
long time, but as always, the real draw is 
playing against live opponents in VS. Battle 
mode. Oh, and we would have 
loved to play this game online. 
(Maybe next time, Nr™ m>) A 




E^mz&ga ism.. $ M 





S AWAKEN 1 NG 



-<^ 



$49.95 (PS2) • ESRB: (M) 

ICapcom 
capcom.com/dm< 



^hen the third-person action game Devil 
May Cry hit the PS2 in 2001, it received 
■'most universal accolades for taking the 3D action 

nre to new heights, but in 2003, Devil May Cry 2 
eceived a somewhat different reception. Some 



game in terms of visual style, difficulty level, and 
story. Whether you agree or disagree, know that 
Devil May Cry 3 is gorgeous, it's tough, and its 
story is more like the first game's than the second's. 
DMC3 is a prequel, opening just as its red-coat- 
ed, sarcastic hero Dante is starting his own business 
as a private investigator of the 
supernatural and prior to his bat- 
tle with Mundus. This time 




around, the thorn in Dante s side is his brother, 
Vergil, who wants Dante's head on a stick. 

One thing that sets this prequel apart from the 
other DMC games is its style system. Before each 
level, the game prompts you to choose a fighting style 
that influences how Dante moves and fights; your ini- 
tial choices are Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, 
and Royal Guard. (There are two unlockable styles, as 
well.) As you play, you can level up your favorite 
styles; doing so adds new attacks to your arsenal. 

We like the style system, we like the story, we like 
the hopped-up difficulty, and we love the game's look 
and feel. In short, Devil May Cry 3 has what action 

gamers are 
looking 




94 May 2005 / www.computcrpoweruser.com 



Shots 



Pariah (PC/Xbox). The folks that helped bring you 
Unreal Tournament are hard at work at finishing this 
release in time for some summer fun. As anti-hero Dr. Jack Mason, 
you will have to keep Karina safe. Why? Because she's the 
carrier of a mysterious virus and he has only a limited 
amount of time to get her to a safe haven. 
t. The game runs on a modified version of th 
\ Unreal engine and looks gorgeous. The 
bundled editor will make mods easier for 
PC users (Xbox gamers will get a map edi 
tor). You can play the game in early Ma^ 
or learn more about it at 
www.pariahgame.com . > 




HP F \MFALL 



* 



THE LONGEST JOURNEY 

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (PC). This is the sequel to Funcom's The Longest Journey, 
which came out more than four years ago. Those of you who played TLJ will remember 
what an excellent adventure game it was (you can find it on eBay for about $ 1 5 with 
shipping). We're excited to see that Dreamfall looks like it plans continue 
with its predecessor's legacy. From what was shown at the Game Developer 
Conference recently, this is no longer a traditional point- and-click adven- 
ture. Also, you'll be playing Zoe (not April from TLJ) along with two 
other characters as you progress through the game. The game will be out 
in time for the holiday buying season. You can see more images and 
learn more about the game at www.dreamfall.com . ▲ 





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ACCREDITED 



TIPS & TRICKS 



WinXP fip Of The Month 



any users overlook WinXP's abil- 
ity to keep an open Address bar 
in the Taskbar. Right-click the Taskbar, 
select the Toolbars menu, and click 
Address. This will add an Address bar 
to your Taskbar that looks and acts like 
the Internet Explorer Address bar. If 
the full bar is not visible, just double- 
click Address to expand it. You can 
type in URLs to launch the browser 
directly into this destination. If you 
have several IE windows open, the 
Taskbar Address bar will control the 
window in the foreground. ▲ 



Registry Tweak Of The Month 



i assword protect everything you like, 
, but Windows still maintains a quiet 
record of your activities in the Page File. 
Windows uses the Page File to swap pro- 
grams and data out of memory in order 
to make room for other active data. 
Enterprising snoops might be able to 
open the Page File and see some of your 
recent work. To prevent this, use a 
Registry switch that makes Windows 
clear the Page File at shutdown. 

Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYS- 
TEM\CURRENTCONTROLSET\CON- 
TROL\SESSION MANAGER\M EMORY 
MANAGEMENT. Double-click the Value 
Name ClearPageFileAtShutdown, and 
change the Value Data to 1 . The shut- 
down procedure may take longer, as 
Windows deletes the Page File data 
before powering down. 



Tips & Projects 



Mod The Fox 



Most advanced users like us 
have tried Mozilla's (www 
.mozilla.org) Firefox by now. 
Part of this open-source pro- 
gram's appeal is its, well, openness. The 
browser invites users to pop the hood and 
tinker with the innards. Now that many of 
you are used to Firefox, let's see what we 
can do on our own to mod the fox. 

Goose A Fox 

To make Firefox fast, make Windows 
prefetch some of the program's code. 
Right-click whatever desktop shortcut you 
use to open Firefox, and bring up its 
Properties window. In the Target box, 
you'll see the full path to your Firefox pro- 
gram enclosed in quotation marks. Add a 
space at the end of this command line 
(after the last quotation mark) and type 
/prefetch: 1 . This will make Windows keep 
some of Firefox's DLLs in memory. To get 
the effect, you need to reload Firefox once 
from this modified shortcut and then sub- 
sequent launches should be snappier. 

In the address bar, type aboutxonfig to 
access Firefox's advanced configuration set- 
tings. Don't play with too many of these 
settings; some of them affect only Fire- 
fox on Linux, and many others are legacy 



.accept-en coding 

:.;.->. ;:'i. ;■''.':.; ;i. ;■.;•> ;::.• .;:;.•',:;... I 
network.http.connect.timeout 

.■:...' ■ : : : :'::'.,' :i-.M .' 

:".. ,r : . , 

network, http. kesp-alive.timeout 

n etwo rk. http . m ax-co n n e cti o n s 

network, http. 

network, http. 

network, http. rm 

network.http.pii 

network.http.pii 

network, http. pro^ 

network, http. pros^ 

network, http. pro>^ 

network, http. re din 

network, http. re ( 





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•!■■■■: 



string g:ip,d 

string text^n 

integer 30 
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boolean true 

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r set integer 48 



-;swV;irk.'T..T- rrr,y. : r.iv-i-:::;:ir.-z 



[ Cancel 



By turning on and tuning the pipelining functions 
in Firefox, you should be able to load many Web 
pages faster. 



settings that work mainly with the original 
Mozilla browser. 

Firefox can load Web pages faster when 
you turn on and tune up the pipelining 
functions, which control how many re- 
quests the browser makes of a Web site at 
once. Look for the cluster of listings start- 
ing with network.http.max-connections. 
Double-click this listing, change the Integer 
Value from 24 to 48, and click OK. You'll 
notice that this line is now bold and tagged 
as User Set in the Status column. This is 
Firefox's way of tracking the preferences 
you change. You can right-click any prefer- 
ence and use the Reset command to roll 
your change back to the default. 

Now change these settings: 

• Change network.http.max-connections- 

per-server from 8 to 24. 

• Change network.http.max-persistent- 

connections-per-proxy from 4 to 12. 

• Change network.http.max-persistent- 

connections-per-server from 2 to 6. 

• Change network.http. pipelining from 

False to True. Notice this setting is a 
Boolean setting, which means that you 
have to double-click it to change it 
from False to True and vice versa. 

• Change network. http. pipelining. maxre- 

quests from 4 to 32. 

• Change network. http. request. max-start- 

delay from 10 to 0. 

A warning: According to Mozilla pro- 
grammers, turning pipelining on can inter- 
fere with some Flash presentations. When 
we tested these settings, however, we expe- 
rienced no trouble. 

Bring Tabs Forward 

When you open sites in new tabs, 
Firefox keeps the current Web site tab in 



CPU /May 2005 97 



TIPS & TRICKS 



the foreground and loads the new one in 
background. To reverse this tab behavior, 
go to the browser.tabs.loadlnBackground 
setting in about: config and double-click to 
change its False setting to True. New tabs 
will now load in the foreground. 

The most comprehensive list of the 
about: config switch functionality is at pref 
erential.mozdev.org/preferences.html . 

Polish The Chrome 

Firefox relies on a file called user- 
Chrome.css to load custom settings for the 
interface. This text file is not created by 
default, but you want it to reside in the 
APPPATHADOCUMENTS AND SET- 
TlNGS\USERNAME\A??UCATlON 
DATA\MOZILLA\FIREFOX\PRO- 
FILES\ZO%DEFAULT\CHROME sub- 
directory. The Username is the directory for 
your logon identity, in which Windows XP 
plants all documents, favorites, etc. The 
XXXX. default subdirectory has a unique 
name on every Firefox installation. Once 
you drill that deeply into the right subdi- 
rectory, the XXXX. default folder will be one 
of a kind and easy to locate. 

In most installations of Firefox, the 
Chrome subdirectory contains a sample 
version of the file you want to create, 
named userChrome-example.css. Re- 
name this text file userChrome.css. 
We've seen some installations of Firefox 
place these files in another subdirectory, 
so you may have to search the Profiles 
folder to find it. Whenever you rename 
the file to userChrome.css, place it in 
the path we indicated. 

Now, open userChrome.css with Note- 
pad. Anything between the /* and */ 
marks is ignored by the userChrome.css 
file program, so this is where you insert 
comments to describe the changes the 
commands make. After the descriptive 
comment, press ENTER to make a new 
line and insert a command. Add impor- 
tant; to some commands to give them pri- 
ority over any conflicting settings in any 
options menus. 

A Cleaner URL 

Variable-spacing in fonts gives type a 
professional look, but when editing an 
address bar, the spacing makes it harder 



to place the cursor between letters. 
Change the URL typeface to monospac- 
ing to make editing addresses easier. 

/* Monospace URL bar */ 

#urlbar { 

font-family: monospace important; 



. 


II 




1 LW \g 


http://wt..ji sr.com/ v 


Inif 


Rnn T 




:............. 





Changing the address bar typeface to 
monospacing will make it much easier to 
position your cursor in a URL for editing. 

Swap The Sidebar 

If you tend to keep your mouse cursor 
on the right rather than the left side of the 
screen, then it will be more convenient to 
keep your sidebar window of Bookmarks 
on the right. To do this, add the follow- 
ing listing to userChrome.css. 

/* Place the sidebar on the right edge of 
the window */ 

window > hbox { 
direction: rtl; 

} 

window > hbox > * { 
directiomltr; 



Color Your Tabs 

We like tab browsing, so to highlight 
the foreground tab you can change it to 
any color by adding the following listing. 

/* Change active tab color */ 

tab{ 
-moz- appearance: none important; 

} 

tab[selected="true"] { 

background-color: 
rgb(100,218,210) important; 
color: black important; 

} 

The numbers in parentheses rep- 
resent the levels of red, green, and 
blue that combine to make the tab 
color. The (100,218,210) value above gives 
you an aqua blue. Set it to 255,255,255 to 
get a pure white. You can also invert the 
tab text to show white on your color back- 
ground. The last line of the script controls 
text color, so change it from color: black to 
color: white. 



Change Menu Type 

Use the following script to increase or 
decrease the font size in the menu item 
selections. The X£pt element is variable ac- 
cording to the actual type point size you 
want. We found that 7 point is good for 
sharp-eyed users, while 12 point enlarges 
the font on hi-res LCD screens. 

/* Change menu type size */ 

menupopup > * { 

font-size: 5pt important; 

} 

You can also make your menus easier 
to read by changing the hue of the main 
menu items and the menu listings that 
contain submenus. Try this script: 

/* Change color on menus */ 

menu { 

background-color: white important; 

color: blue important; 

padding: 5px important; 

} 

With this, you get blue menu items 
that cascade open. We suggest you play 
with the color: XXX important; line 
using different color names. Also, ad- 
ding dark in front of your choice with- 
out a space (for example, darkblue) 
deepens the hue. CPU 

by Steve Smith 




Infinite L 



Ignore This 

You know when your girlfriend's 
yelling at you, and no matter how 

hard you try, you just can't 
seem to ignore her? Well, 
don't worry; it's somewhat 
out of your control. 

The human brain is pro- 
grammed to react strongly 
to screaming voices, just in 
case a threat is present. 
MRIs show that even if a distraction is near- 
by, that screaming voice will take precedent 
over those sports on TV. 

So, even though ignoring her might not 
work, ear plugs might just do the trick. ▲ 

Source: www.wired.com/news/medtech/0, 1 286,66364,00.html 



98 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



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Rumour Mill 



Duel Takes On Dual 



by Mike Magee 




Meaning 



There's a lot going on and only limited 
room, so here's the "CliffsNotes" version 
of things related to duels and duals. 

• Not only do we have AMD and Intel slog- 
ging it out over dual-core systems, we also 
have NVIDIA and ATI bashing each other 
over dual graphics boards, too. 

• The early adopters — or perhaps we should 
say early adapters — are going to pay through 
the nose for being experimental guinea pigs 
but really nothing much has changed. We're 
still waiting for Microsoft Longhorn so it's 
still going to be hard to make up your mind 
what PC to buy, and when to buy it. 

• I hope you're not getting bored with talk 
about dual-core processors because in a 
year's time, it might be hard to buy a 
machine that doesn't have two cores. 
Perhaps behind the scenes Microsoft is 
preparing a big surprise and Longhorn will 
exploit the processor capabilities. 

• If you want a high-flying graphics subsystem, 
prepare to shell out large sums of money and 
know that the games industry (and software 
in general) is going to have to play catch-up 
to capitalise on your investment. Heck, the 
most recent rumor is that NVIDIA is going 
to start to experiment with dual graphics 
cores for their board designs. Whether that's 
true or not, what's certain is that if NVIDIA 
is experimenting, ATI won't be far behind. 

• We've had a chance to talk to both AMD 
and Intel about dual cores in the last cou- 
ple of weeks and the picture seems to be 
changing all the time. Now Intel will have 
dual-core systems out before July, or so it 
claims. AMD will have dual-core systems 
out in the middle of the year. And even lit- 
tle VIA announced a dual-core system, too. 
What does it all mean? 

• It's good that VTA is still in the game. I mean, 
if the company was ever to stop making X86 
chips, like Transmeta threatened to do, we'd 
end up with a virtual cartel, wouldn't we? 
We'd have two suppliers of microprocessors 
and our choices would be limited to whatever 
AMD and Intel decided to give us. 



• This is Vanilla World. You can have any 
flavour of milk shake you like, as long as it is 
vanilla. Unlike making milk shakes, however, 
manufacturing microprocessors prohibits any 
but those with deep pockets from competing 
against the two big guys. 

• Ah, you say, what about IBM with its 
Power PC platform, and what about that 
fascinating Cell processor which Microsoft 
is interested in using? It could just be that 
its power is such that it's able to emulate an 
X86 chip. But we've been promised emula- 
tion in the past, and while it does kind of 
work, it's not really the same as having the 
real thing. You are faced with a compro- 
mise in performance and the enthusiast 
doesn't want that. That's why enthusiasts 
have a variety of machines lying around the 
house including PlayStations, Xboxes, PCs, 
notebooks and assorted items from the past. 

• I really don't think it's any coincidence that 
AMD and Intel march in step, but there is 
sufficient difference between the two archi- 
tectures for there to be a choice. Intel, for 
example, claims that HyperThreading will 
make a 20% performance difference for 
software optimised for the processor. AMD 
doesn't use HyperThreading, but claims 
that the design of its dual-core processors is 
such that there will be significant gains 
from using its desktop chips. The desktop 
dual-core chips AMD is designing are code- 
named Toledo; we will see these arrive after 
Intel launches its dual Prescotts in the sec- 
ond half of this year. Maybe next year we'll 
see dual Turion notebook chips from 
AMD — that's what it told me. 

• Did I mention sockets? These are nearly all 
changing within the next 1 8 months, 
whether they are Intel or AMD sockets. 

Until we see reviews which benchmark the 
performance of CPU, chipset, graphics card, 
and hard drive, we really can't see very much 
point in speculating which kind of system will 
be better. If you have enough money, all you 
need to know is that soon you'll be able to 
buy a dual-core PC. And if you're an early 
adopter, let's pray that you don't end up with 
an early adapter. A 



a Be f * 




Jj 



Mike Magee is an industry veteran. 
He cut his teeth on ancient products 
like the Dragon and the Japanese 
PC platforms long before the IBM- 
PC won. He worked for a 
corporate reseller in the mid-Ws 
and saw the Compaq 386 
sandwich box and every GUI 
known to humankind. Mike 
decided that the way to go was the 
Interweb around 1994 after edit- 
ing PC mags in the late '80s and 
'90s. A co-founder of The Register, 
Mike started the chip-driven 
INQUIRER (www 
.theinquirer.net) in 2001. He has 
contacts from top to bottom in the 
business, spanning the entire chain, 
who help him root out interesting 
rumours and speculation. 



. . . let's pray 

that you 

don't end up 

with an early 

adapter. 



Send rumours to "Mad Mike" Magee at Mike@cpumag.com. 



100 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



What's Cooking 



Technically 
Speaking 

An Interview With Gael Duval, 
Mandrakelinux's Creator 



By now we take the idea of a GUI-based, Windows-like 
Linux distribution for granted. But back in the mid- 
1990s, there was no such thing. Many users realized this situ- 
ation had to change for Linux to grow its user base, but it fell 
to pioneers such as French programmer Gael Duval to make 
the future of Linux a reality. He dreamed of an operating 
system with the stability of Linux but with a GUI easy 
enough for anyone to use. And so, working alone in 1998, he 
crafted Mandrakelinux, which is now, according to Distro- 
Watch.com, the No. 1 Linux distribution in the world. 

by William Van Winkle 



CPU: In 1998 there were no Linux dis- 
tros with easy installation and a user- 
friendly GUI? 

Duval: Absolutely. At this time the best 
GUIs were FVWM and Afterstep. These 
weren't really 'desktop environments.' 
These were graphical environments. 
Additionally, it was still very Unix-fash- 
ioned. For instance, when you wanted to 
read a floppy disk or a CD-ROM, you had 
to mount it with a command, such as 
mount -t ext2 /dev/hdc /mnt/cdrom, and 
unmount it before removing the media. 
The first Mandrake came with improve- 
ments that allowed users to automatically 
mount the media when accessing it with a 
simple mouse click. This doesn't sound 
like a big deal (and wasn't difficult to 
implement), but trust me, it was kind of a 
revolution seven years ago! 

At the end of 1997, I started to think 
about a graphically oriented, desktop- 
focused Linux distribution based on 
Slackware, but I realized that Red Hat 
was rapidly becoming the big Linux dis- 
tribution for two reasons: 1) It had a good 
and easy-to-use installer, and 2) It had a 



package-management system, which is a key 
factor to keep a system stable when you do 
many updates. In June of 1998, 1 had a first 
version working well based on Red Hat 5.0 
and KDE 1.0 Beta. And as KDE 1.0 final 
and Red Hat 5.1 were released, I thought it 
was the right time to make the first version 
of Mandrake public. This was a challenge, 
since at the time it was really difficult to 
find an FTP mirror that would host a 
600MB archive of software, especially when 
99% of it was redundant with Red Hat! As 
a result, the first Mandrake on FTP was a 
mix of binaries and symbolic links to Red 
Hat packages. Only two mirrors took it at 
the beginning, quickly followed by others 
after the first Slashdot announcement. 

CPU: Because Mandrake ended up shar- 
ing 99% of Red Hat's code base, did any 
legal complications arise from this? 

Duval: First of all, I want to make clear 
that Red Hat's code was 99% Free Soft- 
ware code, which wasn't from Red Hat. 



But I checked the licenses of Red Hat's 
parts, and it was open-source code, so no 
problem. Shortly after the first release, I 
was in contact with Red Hat's legal depart- 
ment to clarify with them what I could do 
and what I couldn't. 

CPU: Will Linux ever steal a serious 
amount of desktop market share from 
Microsoft? 

Duval: I think so. Linux was born in the 
early '90s, and it only started to be a seri- 
ous competitor to Windows server and 
Unix 10 years later. Linux on the desktop 
was born by the end of the '90s, so I'm 
confident that it can become a dominant 
desktop system in the next five years. And 
when you look at all the energy and 
money deployed by Microsoft to counter 
the Linux phenomenon, I'm quite confi- 
dent in the future of Linux. 

CPU: Will Linux ultimately replace Win- 
dows as the most popular desktop OS? 



CPU /May 2005 101 



What's Cooking . . . Technically Speaking 



Duval: An open-source operating system 
will ultimately replace Windows as the most 
popular desktop OS. Linux is currently the 
best challenger to Windows in this area. 

CPU: When you had venture capital 
money pouring into Mandrakelinux early 
on, what was the single smartest and single 
most foolish way that money was used? 

Duval: I think that the smartest way was 
to communicate on a larger scale, attend 
trade shows, and show ourselves. The most 
foolish way has certainly been to organize 
very expensive parties and to pay pharaonic 
bills for prestigious hotels and business-class 
plane tickets. In 2000 we had one party in 
Paris that was particularly expensive. It was 
in the most fashionable club of the day, 
with free, no-limit drinking and so on. We 
didn't have topless girls jumping out of 
cakes, but I think that many people inside 
and outside Mandrakesoft had a lot of run 
during this period. But this kind of event 
clearly shouldn't have happened because of 
the cost. 

CPU: With flash drives and one-inch 
hard drive devices getting much, much 
cheaper, when will we see a product such 



Duval: This is an argument that we 
often hear at Mandrakesoft. But I don't 
think that it's true for three reasons: 

1) The Linux architecture certainly offers 
more security than Windows. Of course, 
this could be discussed for years, but I just 
want to show two examples: a) In Linux, 
the graphical system, which is used by 
desktop applications, is cleanly separated 
from the Linux kernel itself. As a result, 
security is enhanced by very limited inter- 
actions. And this is true for many other 
components in Linux, b) Using desktop 
applications in Linux is far more secure 
than under Windows because the design 
of these applications is often different. 
For instance, under Linux, you won't 
have any script or applications automati- 
cally started by an incoming email from 
your email client, whichever you are using 
(KMail, Thunderbird, Evolution, etc.). 
On the other hand, this has traditionally 
been a major flaw in Microsoft's Outlook. 

2) Specifically regarding the Virus writ- 
ers go after the Windows platform be- 
cause it's the biggest target' argument, 
Apache is the most used Web server on 
the Internet, far more than Microsoft 



CPU: Even if Microsoft's visions and 
market directions aren't as good as what 
the open-source community can come up 
with, would you say that Microsoft's abil- 
ity to guide the market in new directions 
is sometimes a good thing? 

Duval: Of course they have the power to 
guide the market in some ways because 
they have the money. Anyway, they 
wouldn't even have to invent something 
to have a technological vision; any kind of 
innovation would be nice, [laughs] And 
if you think market vision, Microsoft 
also made huge mistakes. In 1995 they 
thought they could impose their own 
network protocol instead of IP and didn't 
predict the Web at all. When Netscape 
Navigator appeared (which was based on 
another product from the NCSA, Mo- 
saic), Microsoft had nothing to offer 
to their customers! It took months to cre- 
ate the first IE, which included BSD code 
from Mosaic. 

Open source is like a liberal world 
where only the best pieces of software are 
naturally selected to emerge. Additionally, 
the open-source development force is 
stronger than the proprietary-software 
development force because there are more 



'm quite confident in the future of Linux." 

— Gael Duval 



as Mandrakemove residing entirely on a 
thumb drive or even an MP3 player? 

Duval: We did it with LaCie, right after 
Mandrakemove. It's called GlobeTrotter 
r www.mandrakesoft.com/products 
/globetrotter! . The next Mandrakelinux 
version should also be able to be installed 
on a USB key. 

CPU: Security is often cited as a primary 
reason for people to switch to Linux from 
Windows, but isn't it also true that hack- 
ers and virus writers go after the Windows 
platform because it's the biggest target? If 
Linux became as popular as Windows, 
wouldn't you find legions of hackers 
punching holes in Linux's security? 



IIS. Is Apache insecure? No. There are 
no major security headaches with Apache 
as far as I know. And it's roughly the 
same for most Internet services, low-level 
and high-level, which often run Linux, 
MySQL, PHP. All of these are open- 
source software. 

3) Linux and the open-source world really 
care about security. We are able to release a 
security updates package in less than 24 
hours for Linux itself and thousands of 
applications that run on top of it. I'm not 
sure that this is true in the Microsoft world. 



developers. Furthermore, I think that 
open source is far more exciting than pro- 
prietary software because it empowers 
people with the capability to design and 
create without limit, helped by all the free 
tools and huge technical documentation 
that is available on the 'Net. If you were a 
15-year-old computer fan, would you 
choose to use Windows or Linux to devel- 
op? My guess is that most of young geeks 
tend to adopt Linux. As a result, you'll 
have a huge army of Linux developers in 
10 years, and I think that Microsoft is 
really challenged by this. CPU 



CPU 

ONHNE 



Subscribers can read bonus content with Gael Duval at 

\AAAAA/.cpumag.conn/cpunnav05/duval 



102 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 





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CPU /May 2005 105 



What's Cooking 



Under Development 

by 



William Van Winkle 




Quantum Cryptography Hits The Internet 

The essential problem 
with traditional cryp- 
tography, and even with 
today's public key archi- 
tecture, is that there is 
always a weak link. In the 
old days, it used to be that 
the cipher key had to be 
communicated between 
the sender and the recipi- 
ent in a hopefully secret 
fashion. With a system 
such as RSA, most keys 
are maintained in a key 
bank that communicates 
over a secured Internet 
connection but one which 
is still theoretically hackable. The problem is 
that even the most advanced conventional 
encryption methods rely on number crunch- 
ing. It may take thousands of years to crack 
a given code with modern equipment, but a 
change in mathematics or computing tech- 
nology could drastically reduce that time. 
For example, quantum computers (once 
they finally arrive) are expected to easily 
crack all modern encryption keys. 

Better security requires a completely new 
approach, and the best candidate currently 
in the works is quantum cryptography, 
which hinges on the transmission of encod- 
ing and decoding single photon light pulses 
as keys, a process called QKD (Quantum 
Key Distribution). The QKD can be ac- 
complished through fiber, free space, or 
satellite. For example, sender Alice trans- 
mits a single photon per pulse at random, 
and receiver Bob detects at random. Once 
Alice and Bob have accumulated enough 
raw key-bit materials, they need to agree on 
which bits are good and which bits are 
throw-away, according to select protocols. 
The QKD process is all about establishing 
ultra-secure keys. With this in hand, the 
keys can be used to enable secure commu- 
nications over insecure networks, such as 
the Internet. 



BBN Technologies, working with 
Boston and Harvard Universities, has 
established the world's first operational 
fiber optic-based quantum cryptography 
system. The QKD network connects 
campuses of BBN, Harvard, and Boston 
University. Because of the weakness of the 
light pulses used (with weak pulses, it's 
easier to detect signal disruptions from 
hackers), the system's effectiveness is lim- 
ited to about 50km. This might be fine 
for securing email sent between, say, gov- 
ernmental offices, but it won't help estab- 
lish keys with your buddy across the 
country. Extending the range of this sys- 
tem is one of researchers' top priorities. A 
team at Los Alamos National Laboratory, 
for example, is working on how to send 
coding signals via satellite. 

A related approach is under develop- 
ment at Boston University. The method 
would rely on pairs of photons that are 
"polarization entangled." These pairs 
would carry the dual-digit values, and the 
sequence in which they appear would 
constitute the code key. Because of the 
nature of quantum entanglement, any 
attempt to intercept and read the photon 
states would turn the bit stream into junk 
for the receiver and interloper. A 



Chip Assembly, 

Shaken Not Stirred 

The construction of modern electronics 
on robotic assembly lines has its draw- 
backs. Robots can only do one thing at a 
time, and they generally don't scale down 
well to handle and precisely position tiny 
parts. Assistant professor Heiko O. Jacobs at 
the University of Minnesota, Twin Cit- 
ies, thinks he's onto a potential solution: 
self-assembly in a vat of hot liquid. 

Jacobs recently demonstrated the self- 
assembly of 600 dust speck-sized LED 
chips into dimensionally compatible silicon 
housings. He heated a container of ethylene 
glycol to 100 degrees Celsius, poured in the 
chips and housings, and stirred. The com- 
patible parts bonded together thanks to 
surface tension, and a bit of liquid solder 
solidified the pair and provided the electri- 
cal interconnect. All told, the 600 bonded 
LEDs were formed in only two minutes. 

"This process is designed to assemble, 
interconnect, and encapsulate micro 
and macro- 
scopic semi- 
conductor 
chips, which 
are at the heart 
of every com- 
puter and in- 
formatio n 
processing sys- 
tem," Jacobs 
says. "The as- 
sembly process 
is massively 
parallel, over- 
coming the throughput limitations of con- 
ventional robotic assembly. Moreover, the 
dimensions of the components can be at 
least one order of magnitude smaller than 
what is possible using current robotic assem- 
bly and wire bonding concepts." 

Jacobs notes that it's also possible to 
self-assemble devices based on multiple 
components, although they may need to 
be added in the proper order. A 




Courtesy: Heiko 0. Jacobs, U. Of Minnesota 



106 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 



What's Cooking . . . Under Development 



Intel Devises Laser Beam Chips 




Silicon-based lasers are 
sort of the Holy Grail 
of optoelectronics because 
of the semiconductor's low 
cost, massive manufacturing 
deployment, and its easy 
integration with computing 
equipment. Because of the 
exotic semiconductor materi- 
als required, high-end lasers 
used in fields ranging from 
telecommunications to bio- 
analysis can cost $30,000 to 
$40,000 each. An all-silicon 



implementation would cost 
just pennies. 

In early January, Intel 
made science headlines with 
the announcement that it had 
devised a way to create a laser 
burst from a silicon chip. The 
breakthrough relied on some- 
thing called the Raman Effect, 
in which certain materials 
cause light to scatter in a way 
that yields a longer wave- 
length of light output. Other 
researchers have achieved 



lasing with silicon, but only in 
conjunction with long stretch- 
es of optical fiber. Intel found 
a way to emulate the fiber's 
function by building an S- 
shaped waveguide onto the 
silicon chip. The curve runs 
between two modified silicon 
tracks, forming a diode. 

The trouble with the Jan- 
uary design was that as pairs 
of photons would collide, they 
would release electrons that 
scattered the light. This two- 
photon absorption dilem- 
ma is inherent to silicon but 
not many other materials. The 
waveguide diode design served 
to sweep away some of the 
disruptive electrons, but no- 
where near enough. Intel soon 
discovered, however, that 
making the waveguide coating 
more reflective and tweaking 
the diode design did allow for 
continuous lasing. 



The design still requires 
an external light source to be 
pumped into the silicon, but 
given that researchers can 
create continuous lasers at 
multiple wavelengths and 
that the entire apparatus is 
built using conventional 
CMOS technology, things 
look very promising. "Put 
simply, we found a way to 
build a high-quality laser 
on a silicon chip," says Intel 
spokesperson Kevin Teixeira. 
"This means we'll be able to 
bring high-bandwidth opti- 
cal interconnects to all kinds 
of computing platforms, not 
just supercomputers. For 
things like interactive 3D 
movies and stuff, copper is 
eventually going to run out 
of headroom. Optical may 
solve that dilemma, allowing 
us to move data at the speed 
of light." A 



Ft jjitsi j'r Quad-Core GPL J 



We have heard plenty 
about dual-core pro- 
cessors from AMD and Intel. 
You may not have heard about 
the quad-core chip under de- 
velopment at Fujitsu. The 
chip is specifically tailored for 
image processing in digital 
media consumer devices and 
enabling such things as play- 
back of 1,920 x 1,080 MPEG- 
2 video purely in software. 
Currently, such devices all use 
custom LSI chips that tackle 
these tasks in hardware, an 
approach that's more expen- 
sive and much harder (if not 
impossible) to upgrade as stan- 
dards evolve. 

According to Atsuki Inoue, 
director of Fujitsu's SOC 
Design Methodology Lab in 
Japan, the quad-core processor 
(each core runs at 533MHz) is 



targeted at items such as col- 
or laser printers and gaming 
devices, but it may also find 
a home in power users' PCs 
owing to its remarkably low 
3W power consumption. 

"The main PC processor 
is power hungry and is not 
power efficient for media 
applications," says Inoue. "If 
we put this processor on a 
PCI card, though, say for 
transcoding MPEG-2 to 
H.264 or media size changes, 
we can do it in real time with 
less power consumption. PC 
users can use this processor as 
flexible media engine without 
disturbing main PC processor 
performance. We have a lot of 
video and audio media for- 
mats already, and dedicated 
logic LSI solutions will not be 
cost effective in the future. 



Instead, software-driven, low- 
power media processors will 
be promising." 

The new chip delivers two 
pipes per core for a total of 
eight. Interestingly, Inoue 
notes that Fujitsu found only 
nominal performance benefit 
between eight pipes and 
16 — nowhere near enough 




benefit to justify the cost. 
Fewer cores would have 
required higher clock fre- 
quencies, which would have 
driven up the power con- 
sumption. The quad-core 
design turned out to have the 
best mix of low power, fast 
performance, and a reason- 
able cost. A 



Fujitsu's planned 
quad-core 
image processor 
may soon offer 
a huge boost 
in performance 
and upgrade- 
ability to 
video- and 
image-based 
digital devices. 



CPU /May 2005 107 



bac k door 



Q A Phil Zimmerman n 



Phil Zimmermann's email 
encryption software, PGP 
(Pretty Good Privacy), rose 
from relative obscurity in 
the early '90s to be the cen- 
ter of a legal storm pitting its author 
against the U.S. government. Zimmer- 
mann was a technical pioneer in that he 
brought useful encryption to the masses, 
but his long-term contribution to protect- 
ing the rights and privacy of Americans is 
far more profound. 



Q 



How did the government 
approach you? 



f There were two U.S. customs 
Z__ agents that wanted to come and 
see me. But first a U.S. customs agent 
called and asked me a bunch of questions 
on the phone about PGP. I thought that 
they just needed some technical help. But 
when they asked if they could come and 
interview me in Colorado, flying out 
from San Jose, California, I realized that 
they were much more serious and that 
this meant something different. 

CYou were under pressure from 
them for three years. What hap- 
pened to your life in that time? 

^ It turned my life upside down. 
Z_ I couldn't do much of any- 
thing except work on keeping myself 
out of prison and try to do some con- 
sulting on the side to put food on the 
table. It was a strain on my family. It 
was quite stressful all around. But it also 
had the unintended side effect of mak- 
ing my software more popular. 



Q 



Why did they drop the case? 



You know, they wouldn't tell me, 
Z_ but I think that based on all the 
available evidence, we can say that proba- 
bly there were some evidentiary problems. 
And also, there were First Amendment 



problems. I think those are the two biggest 
problems they would have faced if we went 
to trial. Thirdly, there was something else 
that maybe wouldn't come up at trial but 
was just a problem that they were facing: 
The political problem of prosecuting me 
on this kind of case when the entire com- 
puter industry was against their position. 

The media has reported stories 
describing how terrorists in Iraq 
and Afghanistan have used computers 
and the Internet and presumably 
encrypted communications to conduct 
their operations. Given that, was the 
old argument about limiting exporting 
encryption technology because it might 
be used against us a valid argument? 

It depends on how you look at 
Z_ it. The argument certainly had 
merit. But our argument had merit, as 
well. You just have to look at what the net 
effect on society is, and I think the net 
effect is positive. 



Q 



Why? 



Well, as we move into the infor- 
Z_ mation age, we have to protect 
ourselves against identity theft, which is the 
fastest-growing crime in the United States. 
We have to protect our digital communica- 
tions because they're much more subject to 
interception than postal letters and paper 
envelopes. So much of our lives are far 
more vulnerable to interception and theft 
by criminals and by governments who want 
to monitor their citizenry. From a civil lib- 
erties perspective, there are a lot of things 
the government can do if more and more 
of your life is visible to them because of the 
information age. Many of those problems 
cannot be solved by cryptography, but 
some of them can. I only worked on the 
parts that I knew how to solve. 

How else do you see PGP being 
used for good around the world? 




There are a lot of cases that 
Z— inspire me. Every human rights 
organization in the world uses it. They use 
it in situations where people are trying to 
kill each other and PGP helps them stay 
alive. I got a letter some years ago from a 
guy in Germany who said his father was in 
Sarajevo when it was under siege. His 
father had electricity for only one hour a 
week, and he used that precious hour to 
communicate with the outside world 
using PGP. If you had electricity for only 
one hour a week, what would you do with 
that one hour? Imagine you're surrounded 
by people trying to kill you. PGP was 
designed for working in those kinds of 
environments. Its original purpose was not 
to protect business records. It was to pro- 
tect human lives. 

Subscribers can go to 
www.cpumag.com/cpumay05/zimmer 
mann for bonus content. 

William Van Winkle began writing for 
computer magazines in 1996. He was first 
published in 1990, the same 
year he took his first job in 
computers. He and his family 
live outside Portland, Ore. 



m 



108 May 2005 / www.computerpoweruser.com 




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